US News Reforms Law School Rankings | This Week in Admissions News

06 JAN 2023

The world of college admissions is ever-changing and for students with top university ambitions, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. This week, following the move by top law schools to not submit data to US News & World Report for its annual rankings issue, the publication has said it will change some of its parameters to reform the way it ranks institutions. Check back next week to see what’s new and noteworthy in university admissions!

US News to Reform Law School Rankings

Law school rankings in the United States are set to be changed. Following the move by top law schools to not submit data to US News & World Report for its annual rankings issue, the publication has said it will change some of its parameters to reform the way it ranks institutions.

The magazine published a letter - one addressed to law school deans and another to prospective law students - outlining some of the changes it will implement in its methodologies. In the letter, the publication said that its next list would give more credit to schools whose graduates go on to pursue advanced degrees, or school-funded fellowships to work in public-service jobs that pay lower wages, the New York Times reported. The rankings will also rely less on the schools' reputations, indicators of student debt, or spending per student. The publication added that it will continue ranking those institutions that have pulled out, based on publicly available data.

“For the rankings portion, there will be some changes in how we weight certain data points, including a reduced emphasis on the peer assessment surveys of academics, lawyers and judges, and an increased weight on outcome measures,” Robert Morse, the chief data strategist at U.S. News, and Stephanie Salmon, senior vice president of data and information strategy, wrote in the letter.

At least 21 law schools said they will not submit internal data for the rankings — following the lead of Yale Law School, which started the boycott in November.  The list of those shunning the rankings includes the law schools at UCLA, UC Irvine, Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, and Stanford universities. 

US News will continue to rank the institutions that will not provide data, focusing on publicly available information instead. However, it will publish more detailed profiles of those institutions that respond, providing some incentive for lower-ranked schools looking to attract more students. 

College rankings have always been a topic of criticism by many experts, saying they put too much emphasis on standardized test scores and do not take into account a lot of other factors. The methodology has also come under fire, with Columbia University dropping from No. 2 to No. 18 after it was revealed that some of the data, including undergraduate class size and the percentage of faculty with the highest degree in their field, had been inaccurate.

Other top stories in admissions news this week:

  1. The Wharton School takes the title of the world’s best business school for 2023, according to the CEOWORLD magazine. London Business School earned second place, with MIT Sloan School of Management ranked third. The 2023 rankings placed Harvard Business School in fourth ahead of Saïd Business School (Oxford Saïd or SBS) in fifth, while Columbia Business School (CBS) ranked sixth and the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) School seventh.
  2. In its list of top universities for 2023, Times Higher Education ranked China as the most-represented emerging economy country, with 11 universities in the top 200. Tsinghua University, in Beijing, took first place with a world ranking of 16th. There are 25 new African universities in the rankings, while Saudi Arabia and UAE have also made significant progress. Oxford University topped the list, followed by Harvard, Cambridge, Stanford and MIT to round out the top 5.
  3. A legal advocacy group for students is suing the University of Southern California and 2U Inc., alleging that the school and the company that runs its online graduate programs in education defrauded students by using misleading U.S. News & World Report rankings to promote the courses, the Wall Street Journal has reported. The lawsuit, filed by the National Student Legal Defense Network, reportedly claims the university and the company misled students by suggesting the rankings for in-person education school classes applied to similar online classes, even though the courses had different selection standards.
  4. William Singer, the architect of the largest US college admissions fraud, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, Reuters reported. Singer is accused of helping wealthy parents secure the admission of their children to elite universities through cheating and bribery. More than 50 people, including Hollywood actors, have been charged and sentenced as part of a years-long investigation dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues". It implicated coaches and administrators at top schools including Georgetown, USC, Yale and Stanford.
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