What does "Attrition" mean?

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bdm261
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What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby bdm261 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:45 pm

If a school has a 20% attrition rate, what exactly does that mean? Is it really like a "look to the left, look to the right, the person sitting there won't be there at the end of the semester" kind of deal? Does that mean 1 in 5 is kicked out for poor grades. Out of that 20%, what are the typical reasons they decided/weren't able to return? And lastly, does attrition rate typically describe only 1L students or all 1L-3L?

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rinkrat19
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:13 pm

I think attrition counts everyone who doesn't make it to graduation. (I could be wrong about that.)

Good schools have maybe a couple of people leaving for medical reasons or other unpredictable stuff and maybe once in a blue moon someone actually gets kicked out.

Shitty schools have 20% of the class failing out, losing their scholarships because of the draconian stipulations and deciding not to take out loans to replace it, or realizing how desperately bad their employment prospects are and deciding not to sink any more time and money in.

The REALLY bad schools probably also have a sizable contingent of people who just simply should not be in an academic environment of any kind (think sub 3.0 GPA and sub-150 LSAT medians) and somehow come to realize this.
Last edited by rinkrat19 on Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:15 pm

Attrition usually refers to those first year law students who did not return for the second year of law school. Reasons vary.

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cinephile
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby cinephile » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:17 pm

People transfer out because they can do better, this was probably around 10%. Some people just transfered to peer schools (both in other markets and in the same market, so I guess they just wanted a different environment in those cases). People drop out because they didn't do as well as they wanted or they realize that they don't enjoy law school or want to be lawyers. We lost people to dropping out before our first exam and after first semester grades came back, but no one dropped out after spring. Between dropping out and transferring we probably lost 15% - 20% of our class last year. At least one person also got an amazing permanent job offer and quit school, so there's that.

I think it's impossible to fail law school at my school. It's almost impossible to get a C, but to fail I think you'd have to cheat or not show up to the exams altogether. Even then they might just give you a C-. To get kicked out I imagine you'd need to threaten the Dean or something. Like seriously impossible.

bdm261
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby bdm261 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:22 pm

cinephile wrote:People transfer out because they can do better, this was probably around 10%. Some people just transfered to peer schools (both in other markets and in the same market, so I guess they just wanted a different environment in those cases). People drop out because they didn't do as well as they wanted or they realize that they don't enjoy law school or want to be lawyers. We lost people to dropping out before our first exam and after first semester grades came back, but no one dropped out after spring. Between dropping out and transferring we probably lost 15% - 20% of our class last year. At least one person also got an amazing permanent job offer and quit school, so there's that.

I think it's impossible to fail law school at my school. It's almost impossible to get a C, but to fail I think you'd have to cheat or not show up to the exams altogether. Even then they might just give you a C-. To get kicked out I imagine you'd need to threaten the Dean or something. Like seriously impossible.


Ok thanks, that's what I'm kinda wondering. I am likely attending the local T3 in my city (actually makes the most sense, most local judges, lawyers, and politicians went here). It has a 20% attrition rate listed though, I just want to make sure that doesn't mean that even if I try hard, there's a 20% chance I'll fail out and be asked to leave.

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rinkrat19
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:25 pm

bdm261 wrote:
cinephile wrote:People transfer out because they can do better, this was probably around 10%. Some people just transfered to peer schools (both in other markets and in the same market, so I guess they just wanted a different environment in those cases). People drop out because they didn't do as well as they wanted or they realize that they don't enjoy law school or want to be lawyers. We lost people to dropping out before our first exam and after first semester grades came back, but no one dropped out after spring. Between dropping out and transferring we probably lost 15% - 20% of our class last year. At least one person also got an amazing permanent job offer and quit school, so there's that.

I think it's impossible to fail law school at my school. It's almost impossible to get a C, but to fail I think you'd have to cheat or not show up to the exams altogether. Even then they might just give you a C-. To get kicked out I imagine you'd need to threaten the Dean or something. Like seriously impossible.


Ok thanks, that's what I'm kinda wondering. I am likely attending the local T3 in my city (actually makes the most sense, most local judges, lawyers, and politicians went here). It has a 20% attrition rate listed though, I just want to make sure that doesn't mean that even if I try hard, there's a 20% chance I'll fail out and be asked to leave.
I think it IS possible to fail out of some lower-ranked schools, though. Mathematically, there is a 20% chance that you won't be coming back for some reason. (Even if it's for some other reason.)

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cinephile
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby cinephile » Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:48 pm

I can't speak for any school other than my own. At BU, Cs are not required to be a part of the curve, instead they are discretionary.

Since you know what school you're interested in, just check out their student handbook and see if you can find the distribution of the curve. Ours tells us what % can get A+, A, etc.

But really, you shouldn't be afraid of failing. You should be afraid of not being in whatever GPA/percentile would get you a job. Like if you're getting straight Bs, you might as well have failed for all the good it will do you in terms of employment. This doesn't apply if you have a job lined up for you by family who'll hire you no matter what.

Swimp
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby Swimp » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:09 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:Mathematically, there is a 20% chance that you won't be coming back for some reason. (Even if it's for some other reason.)


I don't understand what "mathematically" is supposed to mean in this context, but my gut feeling is that this proposition is pretty misleading.

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rinkrat19
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:19 pm

Swimp wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:Mathematically, there is a 20% chance that you won't be coming back for some reason. (Even if it's for some other reason.)


I don't understand what "mathematically" is supposed to mean in this context, but my gut feeling is that this proposition is pretty misleading.
It means that 1 in 5 people will end up dropping out for whatever reason, and probably 0% of those people PLANNED on being in that group. OP can't just "decide" not to be in the 20%. I'd love to just "decide" to not be in the 35% of my class that won't get biglaw, but I realize that I can't guarantee it.

Believing that you can just "decide" to not be in the percentage of people with an undesirable outcome just through your own spunkiness and hard work and gumption is what we call Special Snowflake Syndrome. No one PLANS to fail, but someone has to.

Swimp
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby Swimp » Tue Oct 16, 2012 4:52 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
Swimp wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:Mathematically, there is a 20% chance that you won't be coming back for some reason. (Even if it's for some other reason.)


I don't understand what "mathematically" is supposed to mean in this context, but my gut feeling is that this proposition is pretty misleading.
It means that 1 in 5 people will end up dropping out for whatever reason, and probably 0% of those people PLANNED on being in that group. OP can't just "decide" not to be in the 20%. I'd love to just "decide" to not be in the 35% of my class that won't get biglaw, but I realize that I can't guarantee it.

Believing that you can just "decide" to not be in the percentage of people with an undesirable outcome just through your own spunkiness and hard work and gumption is what we call Special Snowflake Syndrome. No one PLANS to fail, but someone has to.


If a law school has some policy where the bottom 10% or whatever fails out, then I think your warning has some merit, even if it doesn't really amount to anything new for the board. Posters repeat ad nauseam that you can't predict how you'll do relative to your classmates.

But if you're lumping in (as attrition stats almost certainly do) people who voluntarily quit for all sorts of other reasons (parent becomes terminally ill; spouse loses job and can't cover costs anymore; seized by sudden urge to join the circus; etc) then you're right that such a thing might happen to any law student, in theory, but that kind of stuff doesn't belong in the same category as the law school grading curve. Stuff like that can happen to anyone at any time, but we generally live our lives under the assumption that it won't, or else no one would ever do anything.

So, unless schools have some way of breaking down their attrition stats to distinguish between people who are kicked out and people who merely choose to leave, insisting that any given matriculant has a likelihood of leaving early equal to the entire attrition rate is misleading.

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rinkrat19
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:25 pm

Swimp wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:
Swimp wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:Mathematically, there is a 20% chance that you won't be coming back for some reason. (Even if it's for some other reason.)


I don't understand what "mathematically" is supposed to mean in this context, but my gut feeling is that this proposition is pretty misleading.
It means that 1 in 5 people will end up dropping out for whatever reason, and probably 0% of those people PLANNED on being in that group. OP can't just "decide" not to be in the 20%. I'd love to just "decide" to not be in the 35% of my class that won't get biglaw, but I realize that I can't guarantee it.

Believing that you can just "decide" to not be in the percentage of people with an undesirable outcome just through your own spunkiness and hard work and gumption is what we call Special Snowflake Syndrome. No one PLANS to fail, but someone has to.


If a law school has some policy where the bottom 10% or whatever fails out, then I think your warning has some merit, even if it doesn't really amount to anything new for the board. Posters repeat ad nauseam that you can't predict how you'll do relative to your classmates.

But if you're lumping in (as attrition stats almost certainly do) people who voluntarily quit for all sorts of other reasons (parent becomes terminally ill; spouse loses job and can't cover costs anymore; seized by sudden urge to join the circus; etc) then you're right that such a thing might happen to any law student, in theory, but that kind of stuff doesn't belong in the same category as the law school grading curve. Stuff like that can happen to anyone at any time, but we generally live our lives under the assumption that it won't, or else no one would ever do anything.

So, unless schools have some way of breaking down their attrition stats to distinguish between people who are kicked out and people who merely choose to leave, insisting that any given matriculant has a likelihood of leaving early equal to the entire attrition rate is misleading.
Ok, how about this.

Good school: 2% attrition rate (4 people, assuming a class of 200)
Bad school: 20% attrition rate (40 people, ditto)

Figure that the two student populations are going to have similar rates of the "unpredictable" and natural(?) causes of attrition like health and family issues, sudden economic hardship, wanting to join the circus etc. That means that the other 18% (36 people) is the school. What is different about the shitty schools? Scholarship section stacking, the possibility of actually failing out, realization of terrible job prospects, etc.

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annet
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby annet » Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:04 pm

I was looking for another data point but if you go to LSAC, do a school search, and then click on the "ABA Law School Data" link for a specific school they do break down the attrition rate somewhat.

I happened to have UW Madison pulled up and it looks like this:

Image

So, more or less, what rinkrat said with the caveat to also search TLS for data on scholarship stips because that's going to be lumped into the "other" category.

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cinephile
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Re: What does "Attrition" mean?

Postby cinephile » Tue Oct 16, 2012 11:46 pm

But even if you're not in the bottom of the class, you should still drop out at median at a third tier school. You don't have to lose a scholarship. Like you could do "fine," but it wouldn't be worth it to stay. I just wanted to reiterate that there shouldn't be a fear of failure at a third tier school, but rather a fear of mediocrity since that screws you over just as much as outright failure.




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