Predicting the 2017/2018 Law School Cycle (and more!)
In this blog, we will:
I. Make our annual upcoming law school admissions cycle predictions.
II. Link to a survey that we would love for you to fill out (5 minutes or less) about a law school we are consulting for.
III. Finally, after 6 years, start recommending some LSAT prep companies.
Please stay around for all three parts of this blog — it helps (which we hope ultimately helps you). And on that note, without further ado, on to predictions and more!
I. Predicting to 2017/2018 Law School Cycle
“Prediction is difficult, especially when it involves the future,” said Niels Bohr (or perhaps Yogi Berra, depending on who you are talking to). But we have spent nearly a month looking at as many variables as we could, talking to experts and law school admissions deans, and gathering data. Which means that our predictions are still difficult, but they come from considerable thought on the cycle. Indeed, I would argue that not a day goes by that we aren't thinking about the 2017/2018 admissions cycle. Probably far too much. Those thoughts are projected in our five trends we see for the upcoming cycle.
Five Trends to Look For:
(1) Increase in Applicants. Indeed, we are looking at a 3-5% increase based on our modeling, which would be the most significant uptick since 2009. The reasons for this projection?
Demographics — The number of students graduating from undergraduate institutions is increasing now after a multiple year lull. The pool of people to apply is simply larger. The job market picture is mixed: while unemployment is low and firms project hiring, there is an elevated level of college grads in non-college required jobs. Which could mean more people looking at graduate school options.
Retake Frenzy and GRE — Per an LSAC policy change, you can now take the LSAT an unlimited number of times, not thrice in two years (see our blog post on the announcement for much more on this). And guess what: schools very rarely average or even care much about an LSAT score beyond the high score. So, we should see see the trend in more people retaking jump forward even more. Additionally, more schools will be jumping on the GRE option (see: https://gre.economist.com/gre-advice/admissions/gre-vs-lsat-harvard-law-school-admissions-advice), especially after Harvard started accepting them. This means not only potentially more applicants, but more ways for schools to search for and invite more applicants.
The Election — There was a surge in applications after the election in 2016, and it seems that people are still interested, so much so that it may be a new pull toward law school, increasing the number of applications.
(2) An increase in applications at the top LSAT bandwidths. In fact, we think every five-score bandwidth 160 and up will be up, i.e. 160-164 up, 165-169 up, etc.
Sounds like rough news if you are an applicant, right? But there is a silver lining. It won’t necessarily mean more rigorous admissions. Schools may use an increase in numbers to add more students in their entering classes — as a trend for law schools is to fluctuate the class size relative to the applicant pool.
(3) More schools will accept GRE. That won't change much until ABA gives blanket permissions and USNWR factors in GRE in rankings, but we also project that USNWR will take GRE into rankings consideration starting in 2018. Which will then be a game changer. Just remember that right now, if you have an LSAT score, or will have an LSAT score, the GRE is essentially meaningless for you. The LSAT must be reported in the rankings, and the GRE will not be.
(4) Many more personal statements will have a civic-minded or political theme than in previous cycles. Indeed many law school we spoke to already saw this second half of last cycle. There is nothing wrong with this, especially if you can keep a rather politically neutral voice while expressing passion for your future goals, but it won’t necessarily be differentiating.
(5) It won't be a counter cycle. :) Things will start off fast — slow down rapidly in December through February, and then pick back up. Which will make it a rather normal cycle, but with a bump early on if applications indeed are increased.
You can see our previous two cycle predictions, which by some miracle have been very accurate, here:
II. Law School Survey
As many of you may know, our firm serves as consultants to law schools. The most recent school that we have been working with is University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law.
My partner Danielle and I just got back from our visit, and we were blown away with their administration, curricular and other programs, and brand new facilities. And now we want to see what you all think.
If you could take the 5-7 minutes to fill out this brief survey, we would greatly appreciate it. You will be helping to make Utah Law a better school and SCG in the process. I sincerely and very much appreciate it!
III. LSAT Prep Recommendations
After almost six years at Spivey Consulting, and many more in admissions (as a firm we have a combined more than 90 years in law school admissions alone!), we are finally going to start recommending a few LSAT prep services. Just keep in mind that we have wonderful reviews on the below, there are many services out there that may be great that we just don't know much about yet. We will keep looking for you, and you should find the best fit possible whoever that may be. In the meantime, if you let any of these folks know that we went you, they have said they will look out for you too (Matt even has a special tab under "tutoring" for people we send his way). Check them all out.
Want a proven company with locations across the country with a proven system? Try Powerscore.
Want a one-on-one tutor who our clients give excellent reviews? Here is Matt Boutte.
Want an easy smartphone/tablet app to do a quick LSAT section or flash cards of real LSAT questions on your morning commute? Check out examIam (and let us know what you think)!