By Jade Mardirosian
The Princeton Review has ranked students at the Baylor Law School as the most competitive in its 2012 edition of the “Best 167 Law Schools.”
According to the Princeton Review, rankings were tallied based on surveys from 18,000 students at the 167 law schools. On average, 107 students were polled at each school.
The ranking for most competitive students was based on student answers to survey questions on the number of hours they study outside of class each day, the number of hours they think their fellow students study outside of class each day, the degree of competitiveness among students at their school and the average number of hours they sleep each night.
David Swenson, George G. Kelly professor of law, said students answering survey questions on competitiveness may have different ideas of what the word describes.
“I think Baylor students in many ways are using that terminology different than other law schools,” Swenson said. “We have a program that focuses on training students to practice [law], and if you are in practice, you are in competition on a regular basis.”
Swenson said students polled at other law schools might be describing a type of cutthroat environment among students, where students at Baylor are describing the type of competition they face in courses.
“People will take a different meaning from the ranking,” Swenson said. “There may be some that wrongly think that our students are in a cutthroat competition mode. I think our students are heavily invested in competing in that that is a skill they are learning for their future as a practicing attorney.”
Swenson explained that with a large number of polls available that rank law schools on a number of aspects, not too much emphasis should be put on Baylor students being named most competitive.
“It is dangerous to attach too much significance to any one poll,” Swenson said. “Competition is part of the learning technique [at Baylor]. That is the way [students] are taking that question, not competition in the cutthroat sense that exists at so many law schools, unfortunately.”
The difference in what students may be describing as competitive, however, does not mean Baylor is not a rigorous law school, Swenson said.
“Hard work is a part of the program at Baylor Law School. It is a very demanding process and there are challenges at every step,” Swenson said. “We work our students hard every year. When they compare notes to people they knew as undergraduates, they feel they are being worked harder, but they feel like they are learning more.”
Becky Beck-Chollett, assistant dean of admissions, said the admissions process in itself is difficult.
“Gaining admittance is very competitive,” Beck-Chollett said. “We are always striving to enroll a diverse and well-rounded entering class and a high-credentialed class.”
Beck-Chollett said Baylor received more than 3,100 applications for the fall of 2011.
Of those applicants, 500 were accepted and the entering class totaled 62 students.
Beck-Chollett explained the admissions committee looks for students who have drive and determination.
“We are looking for somebody who is willing to step up to the plate and accept challenges,” Beck-Chollett said. “Also, people who possess good leadership skills and who have a desire to go out and serve others and have demonstrated that through their volunteer associations.