Yesterday, US News & World Report published the 2016 installment of its annual ranking of top law schools across the United States. BC Law moved up two spots from its 2015 ranking to number 34, putting it into a six-way tie with BYU, Fordham, Indiana, Ohio State and UNC.
The merits of the methodology used to determine these lists, and indeed the idea of rankings themselves, are always debated. Unsurprisingly, most people tend to favor the lists that rank their schools most highly, especially if the disparities are at all notable. For example, while BC Law moved up to number 34 in the US News, that ranking still falls far below its place on Above the Law‘s list:
This type of discrepancy is based on differences in calculation formulas, so the lists themselves aren’t too helpful without figuring out the specifics of how they were determined (if you want to see a totally jobs-based ranking, click here). But rather than argue for Above the Law or against US News, I’d rather highlight two factors not incorporated very well into these lists that I think prospective students should consider when applying to or enrolling in a law school.
Location. When I was a senior in college, my resident assistant was a 2L here at BC Law. He organized a panel discussion about law school featuring some other law students and a member of the BC Law administration. While I expected to hear nothing but a list of reasons to apply to BC and nowhere else, I was taken aback by the panel’s frankness and honesty.
Specifically, all of the panelists emphasized the regional nature of law school – where you go to school will likely have a huge influence on where you will end up practicing. So while law school rankings can compare BC with Wash. U St. Louis, in my honest opinion the choice in that situation is more “Northeast vs. Midwest” than “21 vs. 26.”
Culture. Law school culture in general is subject to many stereotypes, but the truth is that every school has its own unique environment. Some of the differences can be measured by the same factors you probably looked at when picking an undergrad institution; class sizes, urban vs. suburban campus, secular vs. religious, etc.
Other factors can’t be represented on a spreadsheet. These include the degree of collaboration between students in the same class, the willingness of upperclassmen to share notes with students below them and the opportunities for social interaction with classmates outside the academic setting.
I think BC knocks it out of the park with these intangible factors, but you probably could have guessed that since I chose to go here. If you would like to decide for yourself, I highly encourage you to attend our next Admitted Students Day on Saturday March 21. You’ll meet some current students, see our campus and get a feel for what life is like as a BC Law student.
Feel free to reach out to me or any of the other Impact bloggers for more information, and hopefully we will see you on the 21st.
I am currently in my fourth semester at BC Law and my second as a member of the Boston College Law Review. Feel free to contact me with questions about my experience, BC Law, or law school in general. Comment here or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and don’t forget to follow the Boston College Law Students Association on Twitter @BCLSA.