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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
University of California Circumvent Affirmative Action Ban
It has been over fifteen years since California passed the controversial Proposition 209, which placed a ban on the consideration of race in college admissions. Last month, the legislation was upheld once again after the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected another legal challenge to its validity.

In the year after the enactment of the ban, the number of Black, Latino and Native American students dropped by nearly half at the UC's two most prestigious campuses in Los Angeles and Berkeley. A recent Washington Post report notes that while more than half of the K-12 students in California are Latino, only 15% of the student body at Berkeley identifies as Latino. Ever since the ban-which still faces stark opposition, but led the way for similar bans on the use of race in college admissions in several other states-the University of California has tried to devise clever ways to add racial diversity to the student bodies.

The UC has increased outreach in underprivileged communities and attempted to take a more holistic look at college applications, but the highly competitive admissions standards make it all but impossible for all but the top tier students to gain admission. Since socioeconomics and race generally track so closely together, the spots go to the more academically polished students from affluent, white communities.

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley has recently instituted a new recruiting program that targets undergraduate freshman at historically black colleges. A small number of spots in a summer internship program are reserved for a specific swath of students, with the hope that Haas can increase the number of African-American students in its MBA program, without violating the affirmative action ban.

So far, the UC's attempts to circumvent the ban have not met with any formal opposition, though the equalization of diversity on school campuses still has a long way to go.


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Sunday, April 22, 2012
Too Dumb for Law School?
Here are just three of the internet headlines I stumbled upon this week: "Are Smartest People Avoiding Law School? Stats Show Bigger Drop in High LSAT Applicants" (ABA Journal), "Caliber of Law School Applicants Drops" (Miami Daily Business Journal) which is more scathing than its title may indicate, and the least diplomatic-"The Wrong People Have Stopped Applying to Law School" (The Atlantic). So how do these bloggers really feel?

Last month, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) released official numbers regarding the dramatic decline in applications to American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools in the U.S. in 2011. This week, the LSAC released more specific information regarding the demographics of the decline in applications.

It turns out that the largest drop in law school applicants has been amongst those with the highest LSAT scores. The obvious explanation, according to some bloggers? The smart people are no longer applying to law school.

In the real world, standardized test scores and paramount intellect aren't always wed, but in the arena of elite-law, LSATs are the defining characteristic. Super high LSATs are the entry ticket to the most elite schools, which are, in turn, the only stages from which top firms pluck their talent.

A few bloggers rationalize that the shift may be a good thing. Students with mid to low-level LSAT scores can only expect to emerge as mid to low-level legal practitioners, who clearly have lower career expectations, which will make them more than happy to practice in small towns or public sector jobs. (Someone's got to clean the toilets, right?)

The acidic response to these findings may just be white noise, but it is proof once again that when it comes to the law school bubble-burst, emotions continue to run high.


posted by at

Sunday, April 15, 2012
Prowling for the Right College
Want to know how to pick the college that's really best suited to your needs? Tired of relying on stacks of promotional materials and rankings lists to help you make that decision? Perhaps it's time to rely on the experts. Other students.

Most college bound students begin contemplating the decision of where to go sometime during their second or third year of high school. They may tour campuses, read brochures, listen to their parent's war stories. A select few may know what they want to major in, and why. Prospective student athletes may have a good sense of where they can hope to get some actual game time. But for most students, the reasons why they might choose one school over another are pretty tenuous. After all, what are teenagers really looking for in a college, and why? College Prowler is a site designed "By students. For students." It boasts data compiled from the input of over 200,000 actual college students. The site allows prospective students to compare colleges, search scholarships and read reviews about what campus life is really like. What's best is the criteria.

The site uses letter grades to rank almost every aspect of a university from "campus dining" to "nightlife" to "drug safety". Most important? The site catalogues one consideration that is on every student's mind but in none of the college brochures--the "quality" of the co-eds (including the guy to girl ratios).

The site editors do a sparkling job of filtering the student reviews, which range from critical to complimentary, but rarely veer into the arena of the bitter and (ultimately unhelpful) tirade.

Sound silly? Maybe. On the other hand, it may be one of the few guidance websites that is truly asking the right questions, and providing the pertinent answers.


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Sunday, April 8, 2012
How to Beat Falling College Admissions Numbers
Everyone loves a statistic. No matter how little bearing it has on reality. It is hard to get numbers out of our head-especially if we're already filled with anxiety on the topic. This year, some of the Ivies posted the lowest college admissions rates, ever. Harvard accepted fewer than 6% of its applicants; Yale, 6.8%. Who cares? Why is this important?

Probably because it is human nature to want things that are just out of our reach. Colleges-like any other marketing institution-know this. Never mind that the Common Application has increased the sheer volume of applications to all universities. If more people apply for the same number of spaces, admissions numbers (as a percentage) will be down. Never mind that there are nearly 4,000 colleges and universities in this country; the Ivies comprise a sum total of eight of those. Never mind that increasing competition from foreign students has changed the landscape of college admissions.

Spring is the time of year when high school seniors wrestle with rejection. Like any other Big Life Decision, college admission is an event that can help teach a student how to reevaluate want they want from their future. It is easy to get stuck on a single track ("I will die if I don't get into Georgetown"), and be stymied if that train doesn't leave the station.

Enter the growing market for Gap Year adventures. Let's face it, most high school seniors haven't had much of an opportunity for adventures. I have seen more than one student try to spin a two-week European holiday into an intense cross-cultural experience and it doesn't really work. But how about taking an entire year off to go live and experience something truly different?

For students at an impasse following college rejection, taking a year off may sound crazy, but why not? If admissions odds are down, it may just be time to change your game plan. Even preparing for something other than the fast track to college can help students place the race to college in better perspective.

After all, nothing in life can really be reduced to a statistic.


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Sunday, April 1, 2012
Outlook Getting Bleaker for Law Students
More specifically, the outlook is bleaker for law school graduates. The first of a series of class-action suits filed by law school graduates against their former alma maters was dismissed this week by the New York State Supreme Court. While the justice authoring the opinion was not unsympathetic to the plight of law school graduates in a bleak job market, he concluded that law students should be smart enough to know better. Even if schools misrepresented their post-graduate employment data, the average law student should have both the initiative and the intellect to understand that no degree can promise employment.

Lawsuits such as these are drawing attention to a dismal job market for lawyers. The economic downturn has taken a toll on almost everyone, but law students faced with six-figure student loan debt are positively panicked. While prospects for law school graduates may not yet be improving, word of the troubled market has certainly leaked.

This week, the Law School Admission Council reported that the number of LSAT takers has decreased by 25% over the past two years, and by 16% for the 2011-2012 year alone. It appears that hopeful law school students are finally recognizing that a law degree no longer carries the value and prestige of years gone past.

For the eternal optimists out there, this downturn in law school applications could mean one thing for those still choosing to apply to law school. Better odds of admission. Unlike the world of undergraduate admissions, where each year the applicant pools increase by tens of thousands, this decrease in competition could work well for some.

Perhaps the face of the legal profession is experiencing permanent changes. Perhaps hopeful law students simply need to wait awhile for the recession to recede. Whatever the future holds, these are changes of which all law student hopefuls should take heed.


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