AJC On Campus: Law school ranking ‘squabble’, UGA admission numbers

Several Georgia law schools plan to still participate in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, even as some of the nation’s most prestigious schools withdraw support for what they say is a broken best-of list.

In this edition of AJC On Campus, we bring you the debate over law school rankings, data on students who got in early at the University of Georgia, the value of a master’s degree and more college news from around the state.

U.S. News rankings departures

In recent weeks, about a dozen law schools announced they’ll no longer submit their own data to U.S. News for use in compiling the outlet’s closely watched rankings, which the Yale Law School dean called “profoundly flawed.”

Law school leaders from Yale to Harvard to Columbia have decried the rankings for disincentivizing schools from enrolling diverse students with varied career interests, among other concerns about methodology.

But several of Georgia’s leading law schools told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution they haven’t abandoned the rankings.

“U.S. News is ultimately just one source of information among many that help consumers make informed choices,” said University of Georgia School of Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge, in a written statement.

UGA’s law school, which landed at No. 29 on the publication’s most recent list, “will not withhold information” from U.S. News, he said.

“Amid a squabble about a magazine, let’s not lose sight of the big picture: Tuition, cost, debt, jobs and bar passage are the topics that students and their families discuss around the kitchen table when deciding whether and where to pursue a professional degree,” he said.

Emory University’s law school, locked in a five-way tie at No. 30, said it “continues to monitor the debate and to consider whether or not to devote law school resources to the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking business given ongoing, widespread concerns about the reliability of the data used in the rankings and the methodology employed by the publication.”

And at Mercer University in Macon, where the law school is tied for No. 122, the university said it is “following these developments with interest and has some sympathy” with the decisions made by other law schools to no longer cooperate. But so far, Mercer hasn’t backed away.

Georgia State University’s law college, tied for the 78th spot, did not immediately provide a comment.

In an online statement, U.S. News said it respects the choice by some schools to no longer submit information but said it will still rank all of the nation’s fully accredited law schools, of which there are nearly 200.

Getting in early at UGA

Credit: University of Georgia

Credit: University of Georgia

A record number of students applied for early action admission to the University of Georgia.

The university reported it received 26,001 first-year applications (including 26 from applicants named Georgia) for early consideration. The process allows students to learn if they’ve been accepted months before a traditional admissions timeline.

The university admitted 8,253 students in mid-November. The university deferred making an admissions decision for roughly 11,500 students, a delay that gives officials more time to review applications.

Applications from those hoping to join the class of 2027 are up 21% from last year. The deadline for regular-decision applications is Jan. 1.

Be a certified elections boss

Credit: Georgia College & State University

Credit: Georgia College & State University

Yes, Georgia’s runoff election is over. But election classes are now in session at Georgia College & State University.

The school recently announced it is the first in Georgia to offer an academic certification in election administration. To earn the certificate, students take a handful of courses that cover topic such as election law and procedures.

The school began offering the certificate this fall to ready students for public service careers.

“Certificates in election administration go a long way in educating students about the election process, which builds public confidence in the election system,” said Claire Sanders, senior instructor of political science, in a written statement.

College and career academies

College and career academies are coming to Dooly and Monroe counties thanks to funding from the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia.

Gov. Brian Kemp recently announced that the Technical College System approved $6 million in bond funding plus $200,000 in cash to set up the two academies.

Central Georgia Technical College will partner with Monroe County Schools to establish one of the sites. The college will work with Dooly County Schools to launch the other one. Georgia will have 57 college and career academies with the addition of the two new sites.

Greg Dozier, commissioner of the the state’s Technical College System, said the facilities help ensure that “business and industry have a pipeline of skilled talent.”

“When we provide high school students more learning opportunities that connect the classroom to the workplace, we are opening doors to meaningful careers for students while filling a workforce need in the community,” he said in a written statement.

Value of a master’s degree

New research finds that the difference between average starting pay for those with a master’s degree over those with a bachelor’s degree is declining.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reports that for graduates in the college class of 2021, there is a 22.5% difference in salaries. The researchers note that’s the lowest differential in recent years. For the class of 2020, the gap was 26.1%, and it was 31.8% for the class of 2017.

The association pointed to several reasons, including a competitive job market in which employers will “pay a premium for talent, sometimes even for talent without advanced education.”

It noted there are some areas, such as legal studies and communication technologies, where the average starting pay for those with a master’s degree exceeds that of bachelor’s degree holders by more than 50%.

If you have any higher education tips or thoughts, email reporter Vanessa McCray at vanessa.mccray@ajc.com.