09 Sep

Grade Inflation (and Other Perks) Sweep Law Schools

Most students wish their grades would magically go up as they sleep, and for students at several law schools across the country, that wish has come true. As the trying economy and tough job market continue, the schools are reportedly introducing new measures to help their students stay competitive.

Gimme an “A”!

Law school is expensive, and most schools want to be sure they deliver to their students not only a solid education for that money, but also a good shot at landing a job. That is why schools like Loyola Law School in Los Angeles–which retroactively boosted student grades by 0.333 percent in July–are moving to a more lenient grading system. Joined by other schools like Tulane and Georgetown, Loyola hopes that an easier grading system will translate to more job offers for their graduates.

The problem this creates is that as each school changes its grading policy it can cause their competitors to re-evaluate their own grading policies – a scenario that could make it very difficult to determine which students truly earned an “A” versus those who happened to get one by attending a law school with an easier grading policy.

Take a “Test Drive”

Other law schools are taking a different tack–finding ways to put their future grads in networking or internship situations to help buoy their chances of employment.

Southern Methodist University, for example, has been known to pay local law firms to hire their graduates.The grads work for the law firm for free for a couple of months, giving them a chance to prove themselves. The hope, of course, is that graduates will shine and the firms will offer them a regular position at the end of the trial period.

Reading Between the Lines

I’ve written before about how important the bottom line can be to a school, and this situation is no exception.

While these colleges and universities are undoubtedly pleased to help their students find jobs, all this effort probably has more to do with their own reputations than with their students’ happiness. A number of sources rank colleges – and graduate GPA and employment rates both contribute to a school’s rank on these lists. Positive statistics mean more interest from potential future students, and more interest can mean a full class and the corresponding tuition funds… you get the picture.

So, does the above attitude matter to your family? Absolutely! The grading policy is an inside look and example of what makes colleges tick, and that can be a great boon for families in the process of paying for college. After all, a school’s “big business” attitude is part of the reason many families that have educated themselves on how the system works are able to get awarded a tuition discount!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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