It doesn’t have the glamour of any of the recent Awards shows, but when U.S. News & World Report announces its annual graduate school, business school, law school and medical school rankings today, many students (and anxious deans) will digest every word and data point to help them make important decisions. But should they? Recent Kaplan Test Prep survey results show that experience can give students different perspectives about what’s really important.
- A 2012 Kaplan Test Prep survey shows that for pre-law students, rankings can be a dealmaker or deal breaker. When asked, “What is most important to you when picking a law school to apply to?”, 32% cited a law school’s ranking; followed by geographic location at 22%; academic programming at 20%; and affordability/tuition at 13%. A law school’s job placement statistics came in at 8% - a low percentage which could signify that pre-law students believe a school’s overall ranking will easily land them a job. When asked, “How important a factor is a law school’s ranking in determining where you will apply?” 86% said ranking is “very important” or “somewhat important” in deciding where to apply to.
- Apparently, though, three years of law school, debt and job hunting may cause aspiring lawyers to reprioritize. Among new law school graduates, only 17% of respondents to a recent Kaplan Bar Review survey selected law school rankings as their top answer to “Which of the following factors would you tell prospective law students should be the most important when picking where to apply?” Instead, nearly half recommend prioritizing either a law school’s job placement rate or its affordability/tuition.
“The U.S. News rankings have long been a part of the school search process and can be helpful as an aggregate source of data around student population, academic life, job placement and other considerations. But the actual rank ordering of schools is a debatable measure that’s often more important to schools and their alumni than it should be for applicants,” said Jeff Olson, vice president of data science, Kaplan Test Prep. “Whether a school ranks 12th or 24th in the rankings won’t matter in the long run. Ultimately, students should apply to programs that are the best overall ‘fit’ for their academic, career, financial, and lifestyle goals and needs.”
In 2012, over 1 million students and aspiring professionals took the GRE®, GMAT, LSAT or MCAT as admissions prerequisites to get into graduate, business, law and medical school, respectively.