The number of first-year enrollment students in U.S. law schools has plunged over the last few years. Numbers this low have not been seen since the 1970s, when 39,038 students were enrolled in law school. Some believe the lag in enrollment is due to the job market since the recession. Others say is it because of a growing skepticism about the true value of a law degree. Over the past 3 years, law school enrollment has been down 24%, and is down 11% in 2013.
To accommodate low admissions, law schools didn’t want to lower admission standards and jeopardize their rankings in the U.S. News & World Report. As a result of less law students, faculty have been cut at institutions through buyouts, early retirement offers, and canceled contracts for lower level instructors.
However, according to Syracuse University’s College of Law, the shrinking number of first-year enrollees is the result of smart planning. Syracuse’s Class of 2016 is 25% smaller than its Class of 2014. The director of admissions, Nikki Laubenstein, says the “smaller class size is strategically managed and planned to provide optimal level of engagement for our students with our law school faculty and programming opportunities.”
Across the nation, to combat the low numbers of new student enrollment, law schools are improving the students’ quality of learning with smaller class sizes and more interaction between students and faculty. The more interaction students are able to have with professors can enhance their experience in law school, and further aid in their academic careers.
If having smaller class sizes was a part of a larger plan to improve the quality of learning, then does that mean law schools were offering a less than optimal educational experiences in the past when class sizes were larger?
How do you think law schools can improve their enrollment rates?