MARTY: The last time Tap toured America, they were booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on the current tour they’re being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh, I was just wondering, does this mean ...the popularity of the group is waning?This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
IAN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no...no, no, not at all. I, I, I just think that .. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective.
It's time once again to feature a letter from Professor Camille Andrews, associate dean at Rutgers-Camden's law school. When we last encountered Professor Andrews a few weeks ago, she was encouraging people who had never shown enough interest in attending law school to actually go so far as to take the LSAT to apply for admission to Rutgers-Camden's incoming fall class .
This weekend an unknown number of people received this letter, which one lucky recipient was kind enough to forward:
Re: Special Admit-Outreach Scholarship Program for Select Students
Dear:What struck my correspondent as particularly notable about this generous offer (the offer is 50% off sticker price for out of state students and 80% off sticker for in-state students, although it comes with dangerous stipulations) is that he has never applied to Rutgers-Camden.
You have been selected as an individual Rutgers School of Law-Camden would like to admit in the fall of 2012 as an Academic Promise Scholar. We are waiving both the application fee and the $300 deposit fee. Should you be accepted, you will be awarded a $18,000 Academic Promise Scholarship renewable at $18,000 if you are in the top 40% of the class or partially renewable at $10,000 if you are not in the top 40% but maintain a 3.0 GPA ...
[Bunch of stuff about how good Rutgers is]
We hope to see you in the fall.
Camille S. Andrews
Associate Dean, School of Law-Camden
It seems fair to remind Dean Andrews that, while "outreach" is a fine thing, there's a point at which outreach can begin to resemble stalking. At this rate, 0Ls with decent GPA/LSAT numbers are going to have to start getting restraining orders.
On the other hand as a famous poet once observed:
There ain't much pride
When you're trapped inside
A slowly sinking ship.
As of three weeks ago, only 107 prospective first-years had put down deposits to start at Rutgers-Camden in the fall, down from 246 at the same time last year. Given that some of those people are deposited at multiple schools, while others make think twice about trying to catch a falling knife, the school could easily be looking at an incoming class of less than 100 (the 2011 graduating class had 242 members). Indeed anyone currently deposited at the school should take into account the real possibility that it could be closed by the university's central administration in the next year or two.
Now it's true that Rutgers-Camden as a whole has been hurt by Gov. Christie's apparently aborted plan to merge the school into Rowan University. But this just illustrates the extent to which many law schools (Rutgers-Camden is smack in the middle of the law school rankings) are becoming the economic equivalent of frail, elderly people, who are in danger of being swept away by a flu bug or an easily broken hip.
It's also important to remember that this is the first admissions cycle in which something beginning to resemble accurate employment data has been easily available for a large number of schools, and, not coincidentally, the first cycle since the economic circumstances of recent law graduates became a national news story (indeed the latter caused the former).
Rutgers Camden's present situation represents the near future for a big percentage of law schools. Unfortunately law school faculty and administrators are no less prone to Special Snowflake Syndrome than prospective law students. They (we) believe that general statistics don't apply to our particular cases, that "working harder" to place our graduates than other schools will exempt us from the consequences of structural changes -- that in short we are different and special.
So instead of calmly and strategically cutting enrollments and expenses drastically, I suspect far more schools will end up indulging in pathetic half-measures measures such as offering admission and large scholarships to people who haven't even applied, while continuing to refuse to recognize their (our) actual situation.