SMU Law Question

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bizchick05
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SMU Law Question

Postby bizchick05 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:42 pm

I'm interested in attending SMU law. Actually, I'm stuck in Dallas so it's basically my only choice.

I'm curious to see if anyone that has applied and accepted is happy with their decision.

I visited the school and was not at all impressed with the admissions counselor. She was a little rude and condescending.

Is SMU also generous with scholarships for PT applicants?

Thanks!

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:19 pm

SMU is very generous with money for LSAT. I don't know how they keep a 3.7 median GPA (or whatever it is) since they don't seem to care at all about GPA.


As for the school itself, this is a (really obnoxiously long) response to a PM someone sent me a long time ago asking the same basic question:

Career Services

They seem to make no effort to take advantage of the massive Dallas area legal market. It's almost like they pretend the surrounding cities don't exist. I don't know how familiar you are with Dallas, but their are cities that immediately border it that make up the Dallas-area metroplex. Plano, Denton, Addison, etc. Also Southlake, Grapevine, Las Colinas....there are tons of middle-sized law firms in these areas that I know have at least one summer law associate because I've contacted them. But if you were to look at what SMU offers, it downtown Dallas Biglaw or almost nothing else. It's a huge waste of resources.

We had less than 70 total firms for OCI, which is pathetic given how many firms there are around here. But I get tons of emails with opportunities to go work in places like New York City, Chicago, the Santa Barbara DA's office, which all sounds great until you get to the "unpaid" part. If you've got enough money to afford to go to NYC and work for free over the summer, something tells me a job after school isn't high on the priority list.

The explicitly advise against mass mailing firms, which is just mind-boggling to me.

I do not expect Career Services to hold my hand and find me a job. I do expect them to go out and seek out firms and get them make jobs available to SMU students, and after that, it's up to me to impress the firm. But to not even reach out and get them run a Symplicity posting, but to have 15 unpaid internships around the country in some of the most expensive places to live...it seems like their priorities are screwed up to me.

Further, if you want anything other than Biglaw, they are of little use. They almost freeze up completely if you ask about government work or anything other than Jones Day. And, during 1L especially, they will have a lot of "mandatory" meetings which do nothing but tell you to "network." I suppose that some of the stuff might be nice for someone who is 22 and straight from undergrad, but they need to have an exception for people like me who have worked before school and understand how to write a thank-you email, a resume, etc. I felt like a lot of the time they required of me was fairly worthless, and time is a pretty valuable commodity in law school.

As for job prospects, well...I know a few T10%, LR people who have nothing for next summer. The firms are more selective, and there are a lot of UT and T14 candidates applying to the market. I think I have something for next summer, but it's due to my own diligence and not anything from SMU. SMU's name still carries pretty good weight in D/FW, and if you can do well, you'll probably find something, it just may not be what you want.


School Administration

SMU runs at a glacial pace. For instance, we didn't get a schedule of Spring 2012 classes until the Friday before registration started on Monday. For some reason, they seem to think it's OK to just meander along and take their time with everything. It's not. The top schools give students an answer pretty quickly for the most part. If you apply in October, you'll usually hear back within a couple months. God help you if you miss SMU's November EA deadline, because you may not hear anything until May. And when we were waiting on our exam grades from Fall of 1L, it took almost 6 weeks to get them, and meanwhile, some summer stuff was being hired on a rolling basis and you needed grades to apply. For Spring of 1L, they set a deadline for professors to turn in grades, which several missed. If a student missed a deadline, they would fail a course. Professors got an extension. They teach 1-2 classes a year and only have to grade twice a year. It's not much to ask that they do so in a timely manner and respect deadlines. And I say this as certified English teacher who has to read through a couple hundred essays and grade them. It sucks, but suck it up...you're getting paid 6 figures to be a law professor.

The Dean is a complete tool. Every time he talks, he spends the first 10-15 minutes talking about his published law review articles, how great he is at Con law, etc. I know this sounds like a weird personal attack, but PM any SMU student and they will probably tell you the same thing. He seems so full of himself that it's a wonder he doesn't burst. And he always cites the same "media guide" facts about SMU...we have 3 or 4 grads that are CEO's in Fortune 50 companies (more than Harvard), the Thai or Bangladeshi (one of them, I can't recall which) Chief Justice of the Supreme Court went to SMU, we have a lot of international students...that's all well and good, but the Chief Justice or the Thai Prime Minister could have gone to Cooley and had guaranteed jobs. SMU has been falling in the rankings and he has articulated no plan at all to correct that. Moreover, he always likes to say that SMU is one of the most selective schools in the country and (I kid you not) compare it to Harvard. I understand it's his job to sell the school, but I want a clear and articulated plan as to how he intends to 1) raise SMU's ranking, and 2) secure jobs for the students there. I am paying for a professional degree, and I expect at least an idea of how the school intends to help me. it's much easier to sell a school ranked in the 30's than one teetering on the edge of the top 50.

Further, they love to talk about how bad UT's legal writing program is and how it doesn't prepare students for the real world. Fine and dandy, but UT is rising in the rankings and has at least double the potential employers SMU has. SMU's legal writing program sucks, it's graded, and it's ridiculously hard. I don't mind putting in hard work, but it's almost specifically designed to give you as much work as possible with as little feedback or actual teaching as possible.

There just seems to be some institutional blockage about joining in the modern era. Everything is still run like SMU runs the Dallas legal market, and it doesn't. I want SMU to do things like have an online exam bank for students to study from, not have a secret book in the library that they won't let anyone see until November, and professors are not required to submit sample exams. It's absurd. If I want to study recent exams before November, for $40K a year, I damn well ought to be able to. And I want Career Services to keep track of what class rank gets interviewed by whom. I asked them about the listed cutoffs for firms from OCI and all they could tell me was that firms hire outside their cutoffs. That's very helpful, thanks....to what extent? It seems to me that part of being an effective Career Services office would be the ability to track what class rank got which interview, so when a firm says that they only want the top 25%, Career Services can tell students that they may say that, but that 90% of their interviews come from the top 10%, or that about half the students they interviewed were below top 25% but above top 50%.

It just seems like there are a lot of "best practices" out there that they willfully ignore, yet tout themselves as the equal of Harvard, etc. If everything were humming along like it was 2005, that would be fine. But when you aren't actually Harvard, stop telling people you are just as selective and get off your ass and start implementing practices that will maximize your student's chances of finding employment

I know this is a ton of writing, and I probably sound super bitchy. I'm really not, I just have very little patience for posturing and sticking your head in the sand. If there is a problem, fix it. Don't pretend it doesn't exist. Make a plan and clearly articulate it to students as to how and why their degree will not lose value because "Here are the steps we are going to take to not only keep SMU in the top 50 schools, but raise its ranking..." Maybe I am being too sensitive and bitchy, I don't know. But these are some of the problems I see in dealing with the school on a daily basis. What bothers me most is not that there are problems, but there seems to be no clear plan or direction to fix them.

The Good Stuff

Before you think I hate everything and am just being bitchy for the sake of being bitchy, there are a lot of things I really love about SMU. The students, on the whole, are very friendly and willing to help each other. I know a lot of the top people in my class, and they are very willing to help out anyone and not snide at all. Everyone seems to want to do well, but not at the expense of others. There is much more willingness to help a fellow student out than to try and screw them. No one will deliberately send you bad notes if you missed class, or tear pages out of books in the library. People are genuinely nice to each other.

As much as I dislike the Dean, I will give him credit for bringing in some excellent young professors. People not only at the top of their field in the practice of law, but they also are actually good teachers, which is refreshing. They seem to really enjoy teaching and are a pleasure to learn from. And they, by and large, extremely smart and fairly young. They could probably be at most any law school, but here they are. I can think of at least half a dozen that I want to take every class they offer just to be able to learn more from them. A lot of times professors are chosen based on their skill as lawyers, not teachers. It's nice to have both. I really can't say enough about the quality of professors they've brought in.

The Partner to Practice program is really great, and I can't give them enough credit for that. They find small / medium firms / business around the city that would like legal help for the summer, but can't afford to pay $1500 a week or something like that. The employer pays you, somewhere between $450 and $750 a week, and the school matches that in tuition reduction for the following year. Is it ideal? Nope. But it beats the hell out of working for free, and it's a genuinely creative solution to a problem. It's not supposed to lead to full time employment, but it does for several people.

I'm not really sure how to sum this up. There are aspects of SMU that drive me absolutely crazy, and aspects I really love. On the whole, I am happy at SMU. Would I recommend it over UT? Not unless there was a very, very, very compelling reason. Is it a good law school? I think so. But it could be much, much better. It seems like they waste a lot of opportunity, since they are the only law school in Dallas, and it seems like they should be a much higher-ranked school. They are making missteps along the way somewhere.

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Rahviveh
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Rahviveh » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:32 pm

If you're absolutely stuck in Dallas, make sure you do well enough on the LSAT to get a full ride.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=stmarys

- Less than 5% of the class is known to make more than 60k after graduation.

- Over 30% of the class does not have a long-term, full-time legal job.

So you can expect to be making 40-60K after graduation and a hefty chance you won't even be practicing law at that point.

Kill the LSAT and don't let them rip you off.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:39 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:If you're absolutely stuck in Dallas, make sure you do well enough on the LSAT to get a full ride.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=stmarys

- Less than 5% of the class is known to make more than 60k after graduation.

- Over 30% of the class does not have a long-term, full-time legal job.

So you can expect to be making 40-60K after graduation and a hefty chance you won't even be practicing law at that point.

Kill the LSAT and don't let them rip you off.


SMU is Southern Methodist.

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:41 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:If you're absolutely stuck in Dallas, make sure you do well enough on the LSAT to get a full ride.

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=stmarys

- Less than 5% of the class is known to make more than 60k after graduation.

- Over 30% of the class does not have a long-term, full-time legal job.

So you can expect to be making 40-60K after graduation and a hefty chance you won't even be practicing law at that point.

Kill the LSAT and don't let them rip you off.



1) There's no full rides unless you get a Sumner's Scholarship, which requires more than just a high LSAT.

2) You should probably quoting information from Southern Methodist University, which is in Dallas, and not St. Mary's University, which is in San Antonio and has terrible far worse employment numbers than SMU.

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Rahviveh
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Rahviveh » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:45 pm

Whoops! My mistake

bizchick05
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby bizchick05 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:55 pm

Thanks for the replies! I wasn't expecting any this fast :D

kavalno if you don't mind me asking, what were your stats (LSAT, GPA)? are you a 2L? FT/PT?

I am a little disappointed that SMU is the only law school in Dallas. I did hear that UNT is opening up a law school in 2014. Not sure how I feel about that since everyone applying will be the ENTERING class.

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Legacy Rabbit
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Legacy Rabbit » Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:58 pm

I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:00 pm

FT 3L. Don't go to UNT. If you have to stay in Dallas, it's SMU or don't go.

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:01 pm

Legacy Rabbit wrote:I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.



That's a terrible idea. Wesleyan is a joke.

bizchick05
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby bizchick05 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:03 pm

I think you may be referring to Texas Wesleyan which I believe is a Tier 3 or 4 school. It's in Ft Worth and I believe the job prospects with that school may be even worse. I did hear that Legal Research & Writing is taught well there.

I think I may apply there as a safety school. However, I'm not sure about the commute to downtown FW after work every Monday - Thursday. 1.5 hours in traffic doesn't seem worth it.

Thoughts?

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:06 pm

You would be better off going to the casino with your money than going to Wesleyan. More chance of success, too.

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Legacy Rabbit
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Legacy Rabbit » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:11 pm

kalvano wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.



That's a terrible idea. Wesleyan is a joke.


Wesleyan Law School no longer exists by Summer 2014. A&M has very strong influence in TX; if you do not know this, you clearly are not from TX.

Go to SMU, pay $48k+ a year = make $40-$60k a year. <-- your post.
Go to Wes, pay $23k+ a year = make $40k-$60k a year.

The joke is your limited post. You complain about schools without giving any options.

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:16 pm

Legacy Rabbit wrote:
kalvano wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.



That's a terrible idea. Wesleyan is a joke.


Wesleyan Law School no longer exists by Summer 2014. A&M has very strong influence in TX; if you do not know this, you clearly are not from TX.

Go to SMU, pay $48k+ a year = make $40-$60k a year. <-- your post.
Go to Wes, pay $23k+ a year = make $40k-$60k a year.

The joke is your limited post. You complain about schools without giving any options.


Right, clearly not from Texas. And where did I say anything about making $40K - $60K a year? Even if I had, at least from SMU there is a distinct possibility of a legal job. From Wesleyan, you'd have to consider yourself fortunate to get any type of legal job at all, and making $60K at one? Good luck.

Changing the name won't accomplish anything for quite some time. Wesleyan is the equivalent of pouring your money down the drain.

I did give options. If the OP is stuck in Dallas (which is not near Ft. Worth at all), then go to SMU or don't go to law school.
Last edited by kalvano on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bizchick05
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby bizchick05 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:18 pm

I had no idea A&M was serious about the purchase of Wesleyan. Well, A&M is considered a great undergrad in TX and the networking is great. I went to Baylor and found less job prospects than my A&M counterparts.

Do you know if they're considering lowering tuition with the "takeover"? $23k seems a little low for Wesleyan.

Thanks for your feedback!

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Legacy Rabbit
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Legacy Rabbit » Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:36 pm

bizchick05 wrote:I had no idea A&M was serious about the purchase of Wesleyan. Well, A&M is considered a great undergrad in TX and the networking is great. I went to Baylor and found less job prospects than my A&M counterparts.

Do you know if they're considering lowering tuition with the "takeover"? $23k seems a little low for Wesleyan.

Thanks for your feedback!


I personally went to SMU for undergrad. Yes, The Aggies are coming to Fort Worth.

I am not sure about the tuition rate for Fall 2014. However, if you or I matriculate to A&M's new Law School, we would be the first class. I can only "hope" that they continue this tuition rate.

I included a good link for you, directly from LSAC's site.
https://officialguide.lsac.org/Release/ ... px?sid=178

I am not sure if you have seen this link. But if you scroll to the bottom, you will see a link for EMPLOYMENT STATS NINE MONTH AFTER GRAD.

If you have trouble viewing please PM me and I will get it to you. An attorney at my job told me about this when he was applying to law school.

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Grond
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Grond » Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:40 pm

Legacy Rabbit wrote:
kalvano wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.



That's a terrible idea. Wesleyan is a joke.


Wesleyan Law School no longer exists by Summer 2014. A&M has very strong influence in TX; if you do not know this, you clearly are not from TX.

Go to SMU, pay $48k+ a year = make $40-$60k a year. <-- your post.
Go to Wes, pay $23k+ a year = make $40k-$60k a year.

The joke is your limited post. You complain about schools without giving any options.


Did you just claim that the jobs opportunities from SMU and Tex Wes are the same?

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Legacy Rabbit
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Legacy Rabbit » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:38 pm

The ABA has their own independent website where it posts a school's data in regards to employment nine months after graduation.

Go see for yourself.

I already posted the link from LSAC that can lead you there.


Grond wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:
kalvano wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:I do not know how long you have lived in Dallas, however there is ANOTHER law school that Texas A&M bought. Fall 2014, Texas A&M School of Law opens in Fort Worth and costs about half then SMU, per year.



That's a terrible idea. Wesleyan is a joke.


Wesleyan Law School no longer exists by Summer 2014. A&M has very strong influence in TX; if you do not know this, you clearly are not from TX.

Go to SMU, pay $48k+ a year = make $40-$60k a year. <-- your post.
Go to Wes, pay $23k+ a year = make $40k-$60k a year.

The joke is your limited post. You complain about schools without giving any options.


Did you just claim that the jobs opportunities from SMU and Tex Wes are the same?

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kapachino
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kapachino » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:42 pm

bizchick05 wrote:

Is SMU also generous with scholarships for PT applicants?


One of my bosses just completed the evening program, and received $40K for all four years.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sun Oct 28, 2012 4:45 pm

Legacy Rabbit wrote:The ABA has their own independent website where it posts a school's data in regards to employment nine months after graduation.


They sure do.

Texas Wesleyan put an even 5/223 grads into full time work with firms of more than ten attorneys.
SMU put 60/272 into full time work with firms of more than ten attorneys.

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Legacy Rabbit
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Legacy Rabbit » Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:44 pm

SMU also pays employers to hire their graduates.

http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairp ... loyers.php



Tiago Splitter wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:The ABA has their own independent website where it posts a school's data in regards to employment nine months after graduation.


They sure do.

Texas Wesleyan put an even 5/223 grads into full time work with firms of more than ten attorneys.
SMU put 60/272 into full time work with firms of more than ten attorneys.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby Tiago Splitter » Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:12 pm

We can go back long before SMU's program came into effect to see that it isn't a contest. SMU has bad employment prospects which at least provide a chance of working for a real law firm. Incredibly, those prospects trounce anything Wesleyan can offer.

http://www.law.com/pdf/nlj/20080414empl ... trends.pdf

If anyone out there is considering attending Texas Wesleyan retake or do not go. That advice likely holds true if SMU is your best choice.

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kalvano
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kalvano » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:40 am

Legacy Rabbit wrote:SMU also pays employers to hire their graduates.

http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairp ... loyers.php



So does Duke.

I'm not short on criticism about SMU, obviously. But since when does trying to get people a job qualify as something bad about a school?

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mg7
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby mg7 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:24 am

I know 3 people who went to Tex Wes law school, graduated in 2011, and none of them are currently practicing law. All 3 of them decided to go to law school in April of their senior undergrad year because they were scared of not finding a job post-graduation. I'd say def. SMU over Tex Wes, but OP why are you stuck in Dallas?

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kapachino
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Re: SMU Law Question

Postby kapachino » Mon Oct 29, 2012 1:49 am

kalvano wrote:
Legacy Rabbit wrote:SMU also pays employers to hire their graduates.

http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairp ... loyers.php



So does Duke.

I'm not short on criticism about SMU, obviously. But since when does trying to get people a job qualify as something bad about a school?


It doesn't seem screamingly unethical on its face, but considering that this practice is aimed at artificially inflating the percentage of hired graduates, it ain't good. Wouldn't it be more honest for Dedman (and the other schools that do this) to keep things organic and let its graduates get hired on the school's reputation ? I don't think Legacy Rabbit has a legitimate argument, and I don't think Test Drive is anywhere near controversial as the Observer tried to make it. Still, it should raise a couple of questions for applicants.




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