Business Insider Article Shows Why Measuring Applications Alone Isn’t Helpful to Readers

Aleksi Tzatzev, “Despite Getting Sued By Graduates, This Low-Ranked Law School Has More Applicants Than Ever,” Business Insider.

The article’s opening speaks for itself:

“While some other law schools are struggling to attract applicants, New York Law School is doing better than ever.”

Additionally, according to the dean quoted in the article, NYLS received 5,998 applications in 2011, up from 4,510 in 2010 and even 5,606 in 2008.

The photo, however, is my favorite part.

I just wish I knew who was saying “People want to go to our school!” because while it’s literally correct, relative to other law schools nationally it’s not.

I should preface by saying that I’m not going to delve into part-time applications, which the dean above is obviously doing. Tracking full-timers is enough of a burden, so there will be a little apples/fruits comparison going on here, but most of the fruit are apples.

In 2008, NYLS received 4,721 full-time applications, 3,685 in 2010, and 5,054 in 2011. This is all fine and good, but the number of applications doesn’t matter so as the number of people who ultimately show up, which is why I torture readers with arcane stats like the number of “full-time matriculations per 100 applications.” This figure has the benefit of giving an estimate of how good a fit law students are with their law schools, the higher the better. Tracking it against law schools’ acceptance rates helps us distinguish between law schools that reject many of their applicants and applicants who reject the law schools they apply to, like that one in the lower right whose name we daren’t utter. Discovering schools that tend to accept more applicants who are willing to show up tells us something that the rankings don’t as it measures what applicants are thinking rather than what U.S. News wants them to think. This doesn’t mean such schools’ outcomes are any better, but that’s a little off-topic today.

In 2011, NYLS had 7.42 matriculants per 100 applications, way down from 14.11 a year earlier. An inauspicious fall, but it’s not the only New York Law School in those parts of the chart, just north of St. John’s but south of Hofstra and Pace. NYLS accepted 45.4 percent of its full-time applicants (the fourth fifth of all law schools), and its yield was only 16.3 percent (25th lowest for 2011, the bottom fifth system-wide). The size of its full-time entering class was only 375, down from 520 in 2010, the smallest class since 2004.

Although NYLS had a large haul of applications, the vast majority of them apparently preferred going elsewhere. A better title for the article would be, “Sued by Graduates, This Low-Ranked Law School Is Only Slightly More Preferred Than St. John’s, but Less Than Hofstra and Pace.”

You are, of course, invited to take Business Insider‘s survey on whether you believe law school is worth the cost of tuition.

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