Like many graduate programs, law school is stressful, competitive and exhausting, with no guarantees of success.
It’s only logical, then, that applying to law school should be equally strenuous.
Apparently UB disagrees.
SUNY Buffalo Law School has announced two initiatives to begin in the fall of 2015, which both cater to high-performing UB undergrads.
“Cater” is perhaps not a strong enough word – these two new programs practically hand academically successful UB students admission to SUNY’s only law school on a silver platter.
The law school’s new, dialed-down criteria will allow UB students who have earned a GPA of 3.5 or above and scored at the 85th percentile or above on a standardized test (including the SAT, ACT, GRE or GMAT) to apply to the law school without taking the dreaded LSAT.
Not only would these students get to skip what’s regarded as a challenging benchmark for law school admissions, but they would also receive priority consideration.
This first initiative is highly problematic. It may encourage more UB students to apply for law school, but ultimately this proposal simply waters down the admissions pool and damages the school’s reputation.
To begin with, the requirements for students to qualify as “high performing” aren’t exactly difficult to reach. A 3.5 GPA is barely an A average – it’s a grade point average that certainly wouldn’t impress many graduate admissions boards, so UB shouldn’t consider it sufficient enough to earn priority consideration.
Allowing students to use their SAT or ACT scores is equally illogical.
Four-year-old test scores may no longer reflect students’ aptitudes, or the effort they’re willing to put into an application.
Maybe as high schoolers, students put in the time to study for standardized tests, learning vocabulary and equations in order to reach the 85th percentile or higher – but that may not be the case. UB has no way of knowing that without requiring the LSAT – or at the very least, other standardized tests for graduate school applicants, like the GRE or GMAT.
Accepting high school test scores makes the application process far too easy for potential applicants. Requiring some form of testing ensures that only serious students apply.
Under this initiative, students can simply apply on a whim using old scores – no studying or stressing needed.
And the law school’s second initiative takes this problematic stance even further, guaranteeing admission for UB students in the University Honors College.
In this case, impressive academic performance in high school doesn’t just make the application process easy for undergraduates, but eliminates it entirely.
Although partnering with the Honors College is a smart move – this initiative also establishes programming for students considering law school, allowing them to start preparing for graduate studies as early as their freshman year – automatic admission is just too extreme.
These initiatives favor UB students too strongly and make the law school appear far less competitive.
Rather than attracting students willing to study intensely for the LSAT, UB’s law school will now appeal to students who worry they’ll poorly on the test. And for undergraduates who did well at UB, but lack direction or career goals, the law school now looks like a safe haven – somewhere for aimless, jobless graduates to take refuge.
Graduate programs are competitive for a reason. They should accept only the best of the best, because classes are challenging and competition is fierce. Law school is difficult. Applying should be, too.