tbullet7 wrote:They're on the rise.
MSU is NOT "on the rise," but on the fall (maybe even to a tier 4 next year). Career services suggested trying to get into contact with employers that are going to university of michigan if you want a job at a bigger firm (maybe any job for many people) and below is an article written by a professor here that recommended MSU grads take non-law jobs when they graduate or just lie on the survey to try to move us up a few ranks. He also mentions, based on his calculation (using the US news formula) the school has dropped to around the bottom half of the third tier.
Our U.S. News & World Report Ranking
and the Simple Thing You (Yeah, You!) Can Do to Help It
Foolish though they may be, the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings affect you.
People rely on them, even if they shouldn't. A higher ranking makes it easier for MSU to recruit
talented students and faculty, and easier for MSU graduates to get good jobs. Like it or not, the
value of your degree is linked to our ranking.
You might not appreciate, however, the extent to which the converse is true: you can affect our
ranking. It is crucial that you understand the tremendous good—or damage—you can do to the
school, and to the value of your degree, through a couple of simple decisions.
Before I get to how you can help, I'll give some background on our ranking this year.
U.S. News places the country's 184 fully accredited law schools into three groups: the Top 100,
Tier 3, and Tier 4. Every year, using the limited data that U.S. News releases, I reverse-engineer
the rankings as best I can.1 While U.S. News does not rank schools within Tiers 3 and 4, I can
estimate where in the tier we are. This year, we ranked near the middle of Tier 3—a twelvenotch
drop from last year, when we were near the top of Tier 3.
What pulled us down? Nothing that we did—it was that U.S. News changed its formula.
Previously, U.S. News only counted full-time students when it looked at the 1L class's median
LSAT and GPA. This year, for the first time, they included part-timers too. This lowered our
medians, as it did for every other school in the country with a significant part-time program. Our
performance in the other categories was steady, with no significant net change.2
Now, what's this about how you (yeah, you!) can make a big difference? Two things,
relating to U.S. News's indefensibly foolish "employed 9 months after graduation" number.
First, U.S. News counts you as "employed" nine months after graduation regardless of what sort
of job you have. If you have a law job, a non-law job, the same job you had while attending law
school part-time, you count as employed. You also count as employed if you are pursuing
Every year, unfortunately, some of our graduates are unemployed nine months after graduation,
despite their efforts to find a job. Historically, some of these people reject non-law jobs, and hold
out for law-related ones. Obviously, it can be very hard for people to settle—even temporarily—
1 U.S. News publishes the data for 65.5% of the total ranking (reputation, employment, selectivity,
student:faculty ratio, and bar-passage rates). They provide other data from which I can estimate another 22.5%
(median LSAT and undergraduate GPA of the entering class). I ignore the remaining 12% (resources), for which
U.S. News publishes nothing. In a few months, I can get ABA numbers that will fill in most of these gaps. In the
meantime, though, on the basis of some data that U.S. News accidentally leaked last year, I can confirm that my
model is accurate enough to justify my conclusions. Anyone who is interested in going over the data or my
methodology in more detail should feel free to drop by my office.
2 The formula change had a similar effect on many other schools with part-time programs. Some random
examples: George Washington dropped from #20 to #28; Indiana–Indianapolis went from #68 to #87; Stetson
dropped out of the top 100 and into the third tier.
for non-law jobs after they have worked so hard to earn a degree. But you should know that
every person who makes that decision hurts our ranking. A lot. The U.S. News math means that,
on average at the margins, each such person drops us more than one whole notch in the
rankings. At the very least, to the extent that you have any choice in the matter, please consider
the full cost of your decisions after you graduate and that nine-month mark is rolling around.
Second, U.S. News assumes that 75% of the students listed as "unknown" are unemployed.
Every year, there are schools who jump way up or fall way down because of this. Three years
ago, for instance, we reported a low employment number for the 2004 class that kicked us into
the fourth tier. Wayne State reported a similarly devastating number two years ago. But
typically, these low numbers don't come from graduates who can't find work—they come from
schools who can't find graduates.
For whatever reason, many graduates don't maintain contact with us. Others don't respond when
we finally do track them down. As a result, our ranking suffers: on average at the margins, each
such person drops us roughly one notch in the rankings.
Under Dean Spoon's leadership, the Career Services Office has done a superb job of minimizing
our "unknown" number. Mathematically, our movement out of the fourth tier can be attributed
almost entirely to this effort. But that success comes with a cost—a tremendous expenditure of
resources and energy that diverts the Office from its core function of helping you get a good job.
So when you graduate and the Career Services Office inquires about your employment status,
please respond promptly, even if your job is not law related. Please also encourage your
classmates to respond, or do it for them and tell us what your missing classmates are up to.
I'd like to conclude by explaining why the employment numbers have such a big impact. The
main reason is that U.S. News uses normalized scores for each category. This means that, in
categories where the numbers are tightly packed, a little movement can go a long way.
The employment numbers are very, very tightly packed (the average employment rate in this
year's rankings was 94.6%). With little room for variation, tiny movements in our employment
numbers have a much bigger impact on our ranking than movement in any other category.
Consider it this way. The following tweaks would have a roughly equal effect on our ranking—a
Raising our peer or practitioner reputation score (scale of 1-5) by 0.2.
Raising our median undergraduate GPA by 0.1.
Raising our median LSAT by 2 points.
Raising our "employment at nine months" number by 1.7%.
Reputation scores are hard to budge by 0.2; every single school tries every year to improve its
reputation score, but this year only two schools jumped by 0.2 or more. It is also difficult in the
short term to boost our median GPAs by 0.1, or LSATs by 2. Here too, we try to maximize these
numbers anyway, but it is challenging to move them by very much in a short time, not least
because we are at the mercy of many factors outside of our control.
By contrast, moving our employment number by 1.7% is easy. It could happen as a direct
result of individual decisions made by four or five graduates: to take a non-law job while
looking for a permanent law position, or just to let the Career Office know that they are
working. Moving us up a few notches—or keeping us from dropping a few notches—is in your
Let's make our numbers even better, and let's keep them up there. The rankings system is idiotic.
Please do your part to keep it from being any more idiotic, and harmful to you and your
classmates, than it has to be.
So MSU was 108, 12 spot drop = 120, doesn't look like they will be hitting top 100 anytime soon. But for what its worth MSU is not a very competitive school and if you can get a free ride or close to it, and have no intention of leaving Michigan, then it would be worth it. But if you have not been to Michigan before I would recommend living out in E Lansing for a couple months because it is really shitty out here (i.e. there is no money here and everything is broke ass), which is why I no longer want to stay in Michigan when I graduate, and also why I am looking at transferring.