bernie shmegma wrote:So I am concerned about the energy of Rutgers. These may be shallow concerns, but they also may indicate something.
Admitted students day is decent. They give you some food, let you sit in a class, ask some questions, but the whole thing is not much of a seller. In fact in kind of confirms my concerns that I find when navigating their awful website. This makes me feel like their budgetary issues are very significant. The amount of clinics or practical skill seminars seem to either be limited or inadequately represented to those outside of the school. They don't offer any vibrant media, they have few events and gatherings, networking opportunities, seem little concerned with marketability, and don't advocate much for student entrepreneurship. Their career services don't seem to be pro-active in maintaining strong relationships with private sector firms or at least they don't show it at all. It's like the school only cares about facilitating public interest and doing so at as little cost a possible without regard for innovation and energetic outreach. The place seems to be one big public bureaucracy.
Does anyone disagree? If you convince me and I confirm your answer, I will delete this post.
I assume there was some kind of prospective student day going on today?
A couple of problems with that. Only 1Ls have class on Friday, and nobody bothers showing up (in terms of most faculty) unless they're teaching a 1L course. But mostly Friday is the day they clean the school. That said I would say you are about 75% right on some of your assumptions.
1. Their Budgetary issues are significant
--This is true. Most public schools have issues, Rutgers is no different. Actually, they are different in that they are a very small public school with limited funds and no real pull from the main campus funds in New Brunswick. They aren't able to give out as much money as other public schools for scholarships and grants.
2. The clinics/practical skills seminars are limited or inadequately represented
--Untrue. Rutgers was one of the first schools to offer clinics to law students. They have a number of clinics that perform various types of legal work from Street Law, constitution, litigation, transaction, housing and tax. The clinics offer an incredible amount of real world experience and are used to service the Newark area and to offer legal services to the local community. Other clinics (such as the Con Law clinic) are currently involved in federal litigation and dealing with cases before the Supreme Court. They are always looking for people to join the clinics and the Moot Courts to argue those issues, and do research with professors.
3. They don't offer any vibrant media
--Untrue. At least 3 times last semester there were appellate court trials held in the Rutgers Baker Trail Room. Real appellate judges, real appellate arguments, and real appellate cases. There were also a number of ceremonies to include the swearing in of elected officials. Dean Chen just left Trenton, NJ, where he served as the state's Public Advocate. His presence symbolizes the importance he places not only on public service, but also the commitment to teaching at the school. There are also a number of prolific academics that speak at Rutgers on an almost weekly basis. CNN, FOX News, and Local News media DO NOT come to the school. So if that's the media you're looking for, it won't happen. But it's kind of hard for you to know how many events are held at the school when you've only spent one afternoon there. Oddly enough, you missed 3 events that occurred M, Tues and Thursday. There is one student mixer every week during the first semester. All events have food, and alcohol and are put together by upperclassmen to give you an opportunity to make new friends and find out what kind of contacts your classmates have. There are also a number of mixers, fundraisers, and social gatherings with local lawyers, judges and other legal professionals. There are at least three big events thrown in the first semester by three different student groups as part of the Student Bar Assoc.
4. Don't advocate much for student entrepreneurship
--The sole idea behind entrepreneurship is that you are taking an idea or passion and making it into a reality or career path. Nobody can tell you what you should be doing or how you should go about it. Furthermore, I can say that the faculty is probably much less concerned with what you are going to do after you graduate and much more focused on getting you through your first semester. Once you figure your way around a case book and attend some of the many school events you'll inevitably begin to network and make contacts. Among those contacts, and in addition to the independent faculty research you will probably find more support for your entrepreneurial spirit.
5. Career services doesn't seem to be pro-active in maintaining strong relationships with private sector
--Part true. Part False.
Career services is small and limited. They are not very proactive. They offer the same initial briefs and services to all 1Ls. After the initial meetings its up to you to set up how often you want to visit them. They don't have anything you can't get your hands on. As far as their relationships with the private sector--most students feel the exact opposite. Most people's experience has been that if you don't want a big firm job then career services brushes you off. They have 1 person that deals with public interest, but most people are successful in finding public interest on their own. Career services seems to focus mainly on the people that want to work in the private sector as this is where the majority of their contacts come from. It is against the American Bar Association for 1Ls to have certain contacts with career services. You won't hear a peep from them until Nov 1 of your first semester. After that you'll receive more information than you could possibly handle. While CS can't do anything for you before that time that doesn't stop you from doing your own research.
6. The school only cares about facilitating public interest
--There is a huge push to do public interest. The school knows that RU students don't graduate with a lot of debt. Therefore, they know that it's not as big of a necessity for people to have huge paying jobs. People assume that because it's public interest or lower paying than private sector jobs that it's not a competitive or prestigious job. That is hugely false! The significant contacts RU has with the Attorney General, Prosecutor's Office, Public Advocate, ACLU, US attorney's office, and court systems, just says they are true to their mission. RU never claimed to produce a school full of private sector lawyers. They don't build the kind of environment where students only know law firm jobs exist. They also recognize that they are not getting the type of recruiting they had in the past and are trying to help students understand their options, and to be more creative in career choices.
7. They are doing so at little cost; without innovative or energetic outreach
--This is a valid complaint as it has been well established that there are things that take money, and it has been established that Rutgers is low on money. There are probably many areas where RU skimps, because they just don't have the money. Recruiting and solicitation aren't free. But again, it's kind of difficult for you to gauge exactly how much effort RU puts for in outreach for it's students in one afternoon designed for students that are still considering attending. I will say I've been to schools where they've gone out of their way to give away gifts, and wow you with toys and prizes It's nice and it does add a certain element of desirability. But you get what you get and they don't pretend to have more than they can offer. It's a simple process driven by the true state of economics, their true mission, and realistic factors about their recruiting. If you want to be dazzled it's not going to happen at Rutgers.
8. This place seems to be one big public bureaucracy
--Welcome to law school!
I don't want this to seem like I'm invalidating your concerns. Actually, it's refreshing to see someone thinking ahead and trying to find the nuances and all the negatives of a school. It's easy to like a school for the positive. The question is, will you like your school when you realize all the negative? You can't accurately judge the school or it's resources on one afternoon. But, Rutgers is a public school with limited funds, and a mission to recruit, retain, and graduate community-focused, and well rounded, lawyers. They don't care about spending money in a way that influences US News. That works to their detriment, but mostly it's just superficial. It hardly changes anything academic, but it doesn't sit well with a lot of students. There are a number of schools that can afford to spend the money on recruiting, advertising, and outreach--mostly all the private schools in the area are known for just that. If you want to know what the differences in the ranks are--there it is. Your tuition dollars at (Cardozo, St. Johns, Brooklyn etc.) are being spent on those things. If those are important to you, then make sure you evaluate that in your decision because Rutgers doesn't plan to change any time soon.