Why Yale And Harvard Wave Goodbye To US Law School Rankings

The US News & World Report college rankings that have been so long-favored by so many schools and their students alike is losing two of the country’s most prestigious law schools, who say that the methodology and the values of the system is “profoundly flawed”.

“The U.S. News rankings are profoundly flawed — they disincentivize programs that support public interest careers, champion need-based aid, and welcome working-class students into the profession,” Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken (pictured above) wrote in a blog post this week, reported in the Yale Daily News.

“We have reached a point where the rankings process is undermining the core commitments of the legal profession.”

The highly influential USNWR law school ranking list ranks the best law schools in the nation, and is often used by prospective students and parents when determining which colleges to apply to. 

The list can also influence students’ chances when applying for jobs, graduate school and PHD programs, as those graduating from the best law schools having improved academic opportunities.

The decision was made notwithstanding Yale’s habit of occupying the top position in the law school rankings. Gerken said that the ‘misguided formula’ did not advance the legal profession and it stood “squarely in the way of progress”.

But Gerken was not alone as the other top-runner in the law school rankings, Harvard Law School, echoed the sentiments. Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning disavowed the rankings for creating “perverse incentives that influence schools’ decisions in ways that undercut student choice and harm the interests of potential students.”

And Others Think The Same

Yale and Harvard are not the first educational institutions to remove itself from USNWR ranking consideration. Last June, Columbia University announced that it would no longer participate in the undergraduate ranking system after the publication of an article written by Columbia math professor Michael Thaddeus, which alleged that Columbia was misrepresenting the data it reported to the magazine

Gerken told the News that YLS’ decision to withdraw from the ranking system was not influenced by the Columbia University scandal. 

With about 20 percent of the overall ranking score based on median LSAT or GRE test scores and grad-point averages, Gerken said the ranking hurts school that admit students who couldn’t afford the test-prep courses and scored lower points. 

Gerken also criticized the rankings preference over schools that give scholarships to the students with the best scores, not for those who need the financial aid.

‘This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses,’ Gerken said. 

Gerken shared that she believes deans at other law schools had engaged in conversations over the last few years about the flaws with the USNWR ranking system, but that YLS’ decision to remove itself from consideration was an entirely independent one. 

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