The bursting law school bubble: Cash cow law schools are facing 30 year lows in applications as applicants confront high tuition and low wages.
Law school is no cheap proposition. To get into law school requires someone to take three years out of their life beyond the typical 4-year undergraduate experience followed by preparing for and scoring a solid number on the LSAT. There is also the tiny issue that law school graduates will end up coming out with $100,000 or more in student debt and the employment prospects for graduates are grim to say the least. As you would expect many aspiring attorneys do have a good head on their shoulders and they have put the pieces of the puzzle together. Why go into massive debt when the return on the investment is unlikely to pay off? There is a clear reason why law school applications are now down to 30 year lows even though the US has grown to over 300 million people. Many law schools around the country will unlikely last beyond the current decade. Even good programs will likely have to reduce class size or lower tuition to confront the new economic landscape. Yet no school wants to be the first to reduce costs as to appear as an inferior product so they will likely throw aid at qualified applicants.
Employment market for law students
The employment market continues to get worse for new law school grads:
Keep in mind that over this timeframe the economy has been getting better at least as measured by the stock market and also GDP. Yet some areas are clearly in a deep contraction signaling that something else is going on. What is astounding about the data above is that many are not working in fields that require a law degree. Also, the overall unemployment rate for the class of 2011 is actually worse than the overall unemployment rate for the rest of the country. It becomes much more apparent why law school applications are down to 30 year lows.
Yet another thing is the high cost of tuition. It is one thing to go to law school at an affordable price and struggle in the market. That is very understandable. Yet going into the debt that many students are taking on just does not make sense given the above figures.
A big consolidation in the industry has come from places like LegalZoom and certainly the internet has made legal options much more affordable for basic needs and paperwork. So it really doesn’t make any sense why tuition should continue to go up for law programs. Schools are merely trying to get whatever the market can support and with easy financing for student debt, this unbalanced bubble continues to expand. Yet this trend is appearing to hit a threshold.
Even the public is becoming more aware of this. Take a look at the hive-mind of the world, the internet:
There is going to be some serious challenges ahead for law schools.
Fast food American economy: Professor states that low pay jobs part of future. College degree required for McDonald’s job.
It was interesting to hear a Columbia Professor mention that fast food jobs should not be considered as the bottom of the rung of jobs. These lower paid service sector jobs are actually part of the norm and will be growing. As the US economy begins to get more and more bifurcated we can expect to see some major extremes. Recently fast food workers went on strike yet the media seemed not to pay any attention to this. Of course we are seeing some major strains in the economy. Is this simply part of our new economy? Before, being part of the working class was almost seen as an easy road to achieve for most Americans. Now, even the college educated have a tough time going after the American Dream. What the Professor mentioned was extremely harsh but it is simply part of the new economy where many workers have very little protection.
This is why it should be no shock that a McDonald’s in Massachusetts posted a job opening where a college degree was required:
“(Huff Po) Hopefully “Do you want fries with that?” is a phrase they teach in college classrooms.
A McDonald’s in Winchendon, Mass., is apparently requiring potential cashiers to have a bachelor’s degree, according to a recent job posting. The ad, posted on jobdiagnosis.com, also says that applicants should be “friendly” and able to “smile while serving lots of guests daily.”
The job opening is with an “independent franchise,” but it also appears on the McDonald’s corporate site, albeit with no note of the bachelor’s degree requirement. McDonald’s corporate headquarters didn’t immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment.”
Don’t you just love this current recovery? Well at least the food is affordable and healthcare bill is very high but that is a problem for tomorrow.
Grade Inflation in the United States: Has our university system made it easier for students to get higher grades?
I came across a report showing the increasingly higher grades reported at our nation’s public and private universities. What happens when no one is average when it comes to grades? Is it that students are all of a sudden more intelligent? I think a large part of this grade inflation is also coming from instructors adapting to a crowd that is simply more intolerant to lower grades because of what they pay for college. Parents have inflated the perception of the newer generation and sadly, the current economy is like a cold towel on the perception of many young Americans. Also, you have to wonder if because of the internet, is cheating simply more rampant? Obviously technology can be both a gift and a crutch for many students. The grade inflation data is actually stunning though. In the 1930s the average GPA at American colleges and universities was something like 2.35. In the 1950s it was up to 2.52. Where do things stand today?
The Great American Grade Inflation
Source: Grade Inflation
In 1991-1992 the average GPA was at 2.93. For the most recent set of data, it is now up to 3.11. What is more interesting is that at private schools, the inflation figures have gone up more quickly. Obviously with many of these private institutions now charging more than $50,000 per year, you wonder if universities are making sure they keep their clientele happy instead of truly measuring intelligence. After all, if the average is a 3.3 (a solid B) then that means there really is no true average at the school. The vast majority are above average.
The long-term trend also highlights this change:
What was interesting in reading through the data is that grade inflation at community colleges was not pervasive. These are the lower cost alternatives of the higher education system but this also makes you wonder if higher costs are somehow associated with higher grades. One of the big reasons cited for this is:
“(Grade Inflation) The author believes that the resurgence of grade inflation in the 1980s principally was caused by the emergence of a consumer-based culture in higher education. Students are paying more for a product every year, and increasingly they want and get the reward of a good grade for their purchase. In this culture, professors are not only compelled to grade easier, but also to water down course content. Both intellectual rigor and grading standards have weakened. The evidence for this is not merely anecdotal. Students are highly disengaged from learning, are studying less than ever, and are less literate. Yet grades continue to rise.”
This is probably the main reason. We have a culture that is paying a very high cost for education and because of this, more is included to appease the customer. Think of the mulit-million dollar gyms and complexes that are built at universities. There is little to believe this makes one smarter at math or science but it is a direct reason for higher costs.
We seem to live in a culture where inflation is present in many areas, including tuition and grades.