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Top Pre-Law Programs

posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
edited December 2010 in College Search & Selection
1. Yale 2.16%

2. Harvard 1.56%

3. Princeton 1.09%

4. Williams 1.03%

5. Amherst 0.73%

6. Stanford 0.68%

7. Bowdoin 0.57%

8. Swarthmore 0.55%

9. Brown 0.44%

10. Columbia 0.43%

11. Dartmouth 0.36%

12. Duke 0.33%

13. Rice 0.28%

14. Wesleyan 0.25%

15. Chicago 0.20%

16. Carleton 0.140%

17. Berkeley 0.139%

18. Emory 0.11%

19. JHU 0.094%

20. Oberlin 0.094%

21. Northwestern 0.084%

22. UVA 0.082%

23. Georgetown 0.081%

24. Notre Dame 0.080%

25. USC 0.07%

26. WUSTL 0.056%

27. Tufts 0.055%

28. Tulane 0.05%

29. Cornell 0.049% (would rank 16th (0.16%) if CAS only)

30. UCLA 0.036%

31. Utah 0.035%

32. Penn 0.034% (would rank 27th (0.06%) if CAS only)

The ranking is based on the % of students who go to Yale Law School, which is by a very wide margin, the nation's top-ranked law school (ranked #1 every year since the US News rankings were first published in 1987, and the only law school to ever be ranked #1 - other schools fluctuate between being ranked #2-4).

The yield rate of Yale Law is about 85% (by comparison, Harvard Law's yield rate is only 60%), meaning almost any law school applicant who gets into Yale chooses to go there, making this a great way to rank the quality of undergraduate prelaw programs - aside from the obvious fact that Yale is the best, that is.

Formula = Makeup of Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut enrollment / Number of undergrads (from wikipedia).
Post edited by posterX on

Replies to: Top Pre-Law Programs

  • hubbellgardnerhubbellgardner Registered User Posts: 322 Member
    to quote Thomas Sowell from his book about choosing colleges:

    "If your interest is not so much in your prospects immediately after college, but rather in your career after finishing graduate school or medical or law school, then there is even less reason to select a big-name undergraduate institution, as such. The quality and renown of your postgraduate training will undoubtedly have a very real influence on your career prospects-but at that point no one will care where you went to college before you received your M.B.A. from Wharton, your Ph.D. from Stanford, or your M.D. from Johns Hopkins. Perhaps you are concerned about getting into such postgraduate programs and think that a big-name college will help your chances there. But the people who run the leading graduate and professional institutions are unlikely to be dazzled by big names. They know from long personal experience which colleges’ students actually perform well, regardless of whether or not those colleges are known to the general public. It was the deans of law schools who ranked Davidson College ahead of most Ivy League schools for the calibre of its students’ performances in law school. It was the deans of engineering schools who ranked the students from Rose-Hulman Institute ahead of those from Princeton."
  • Ivy_GradIvy_Grad Registered User Posts: 533 Member
    Very interesting...

    I recall a debate I was having with Jpps1 about Penn vs. Brown and my assertion that Brown grads have a slight edge over Penn grads for those interesting in pre-law - the only basis / statistics that I could find was Harvard Law (the other top schools did not publish breakdown by undergrads or at least i couldn't locate it).

    This confirms my original thoughts:

    Brown is ranked inside Yale Law's Top 10 (at no. 9) same as it did with Harvard Law - not only that, stripping out LACs, it ranks no. 5. (either way very impressive).

    Penn undergrads by contrast ranks last on the above list at no. 32.

    Again, I understand that Penn has a law school and that a certain no. of Penn undergrads will enroll there, but the point was to look at the TOP LAW schools and Brown not only holds its own vs. Penn it beats it hands down when you combine Harvard Law and Yale Law - arguably THE top 2 Law Schools in the nation.

    So, I think I'm justified in saying again that for pre-law purposes, Brown > Penn (even if it is looking at the very top schools as the main metric). Again, both great schools, but I think my points are validated here.
  • posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    Yes, Brown's performance is highly impressive, even if it doesn't come close to HYP-level.
  • Sam LeeSam Lee Registered User Posts: 9,449 Senior Member
    Better to have #applied vs # admitted for each school. On top of that, normalized by GPA/LSAT scores in order to conclude whether the name of the school carries any weight.
  • gomestargomestar Registered User Posts: 4,699 Senior Member
    how about % accepted into law schools in general? The national average is only around 50%, so it'd be a great way to distinguish the good schools from the great schools.

    Also, if we do it that way, Cornell's ILR school is #1 with an acceptance rate just below 100%. :)
  • posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    Actually, you can't go by % accepted into law schools, because often the very best students apply to law school but only apply to the top few. If they don't get in, they work in a $100,000/year job and then apply again a few years later. Another reason you can't go by % accepted is because often the schools skew their numbers by choosing who and who not to report, or by discouraging unqualified students from applying in the first place.
  • sambeausambeau Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    I know Washington and Lee is usually about 90% of pre-law students accepted into law school and if I heard correctly while visiting it was 100% last year.
  • posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    You couldn't effectively normalize by GPA or LSAT, but it would be helpful to have the #applied/admitted. However, the data would probably be skewed depending on who was reported and who wasn't, as well as who was encouraged and who wasn't. In the end it might not be as accurate as the simple measure above, as I'll explain below.

    The adjustment of some help would be to adjust the data by some rough measure of the *percentage* of students who are pre-law. Caltech obviously would have a lower rate, which would affect the rankings. However, the percentage of students who are pre-law at the Ivies, top state schools and top small "liberal arts" colleges is roughly comparable. It might vary by some factor, say 20% or 50%, but it does not vary by nearly the same degree that the rankings vary (e.g., by orders of magnitude, where Yale and Harvard are clearly dominant)

    Also, this ranking is based on only the very top law school admission rate, and you have to remember that every college has some applicants to law schools, no matter what the size or focus of the college. Statistically, in other words, you're looking at the *top* applicants, not all applicants. Admission to the world's top law school is not a random process - it's about who the most qualified applicants are, especially at Yale Law, which because of the size and ultra-elite nature of the school is one of the only law schools where professors actually decide who to admit, rather than some admissions specialist. Therefore the percent of graduating seniors applying to law schools *in general* isn't as of as much importance as it might seem. The thing that matters in this ranking is the relative proportion of graduating seniors who are good enough and prepared enough to *get admitted to* the very best law school. By this measure, it's obvious who is best. And, in fact, in terms of pre-law anyways, I think this ranking ends up being much clearer and more significant than any other ranking of undergraduate program quality, including the U.S. News and World Report rankings.
  • thethoughtprocessthethoughtprocess Registered User Posts: 4,167 Senior Member
    The top 10 schools that feed into top professional programs (based on proportions) are some combination of HYPSM Dartmouth Duke Columbia Williams and Penn according to WSJ...sort of forget specifics
  • posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    Yes, the WSJ is the same idea, with HYP pretty far ahead of the others, but the study is somewhat biased in favor of Harvard by the inclusion of Harvard's large, impersonal professional schools (which are so much larger in total enrollment).
  • Sam LeeSam Lee Registered User Posts: 9,449 Senior Member
    WSJ is also biased toward schools in the northeast as the top-15 prof schools they pick are pretty much all in that region. Proximity is an important factor. For example, one of my ex-roomates went to Northwestern undergrad and after few years of work in Chicago, he applied to only U Chicago and Northwestern B-school (that WSJ didn't include Northwestern as one of their top-5 B-school makes me feel it's bias may be even intentional). He didn't bother to apply to any B-school in the east coast when he already got pretty settled with a family and a house in Chicago. Like him, many Chicago/Northwestern grads choose to stay in Chicago after graduation. This applies to pretty much all others. You will find more UCLA/USC grads in the UCLA law school than probably anybody else.
  • posterXposterX Registered User Posts: 2,246 Senior Member
    I don't think it is as big of a factor as you might think, when you're dealing just with the top.
  • John GaltJohn Galt Registered User Posts: 63 Junior Member
    just a point of clarification to the OP. Harvard was ranked #1 one year tied with Yale.
  • columbia2007columbia2007 Registered User Posts: 906 Member
  • kk19131kk19131 Registered User Posts: 2,233 Senior Member
    Another silly ranking system.... Also, you can't just choose to say where Penn and Cornell would be if CAS only, without taking all the schools into account.
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