"No Fair! You Tricked Me Into Thinking I Was Smarter Than I Am!"

"No Fair! You Tricked Me Into Thinking I Was Smarter Than I Am!"

Via Ann Althouse and Instapundit, I ran across this article, which I was sure would turn out to be a joke. Alas. A tax law professor at Pepperdine is outraged to discover that some law schools offer merit scholarships to incoming students with a high GPAs and/or LSAT scores, but they condition the continuation of the scholarship funds on the students' maintaining a "B" average in law school. What the crafty villains don't reveal is that only a fraction of students keep their law school GPAs that high. Not a tiny fraction, mind you, perhaps a third. Their nefarious motive? To attract students with high GPAs and LSAT scores who might not otherwise attend (thus boosting the schools' rankings), but only if the students can in fact excel in law school. Have you ever heard anything so cruel, so fraudulent, so self-interested?

The author of this article suggests that incoming students have no idea that law schools grade on the curve -- evidently a shocking crime in itself -- or that keeping a "B" average won't be a cakewalk for most of the incoming class, not all of whom can expect to be above average. And apparently the students practically never ask simple questions about the distribution of grades on which their continued access to free money will depend. As one law school official mused, “This isn’t meant to be sarcastic,” he said, “but these students are going to law school and they need to learn to read the fine print.”

I'm perplexed by the harm that's supposed to be suffered here. The students are free to finish law school with a "C" average, but they will have to take out student loans, which they will then have to pay back. They spend only one year finding out that they're not likely to graduate at the top of their classes, and therefore can expect a really tough time landing one of the higher-paying legal jobs. This is information that will come in very handy as they decide whether those student loans are a good bet. They've had one year of law school absolutely free, which (common perceptions to the contrary; I know what you're all thinking!) hardly disqualifies them for a useful and fulfilling life on some other career path.

*I like Ann Althouse's comment-board instructions, by the way:
Join our community of commenters. I'm big on free speech, but if you want to push its limits you'd better be interesting. You can't just stop by to drop an insult or a lie that you can't defend. Earn it. Or be circumspect.

No comments: