The University of California Davis’s law school is not planning on cutting staff or enrollment. Dean Kevin Johnson remarked that the college is not scaling back. He mentions that the recent news of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law’s downsizing staff and student body will have no effect on UC Davis. The McGeorge School of Law downsized because employment growth is slowing for law school graduates, and fewer students are applying and enrolling.
With slowing job growth, prospective students may make a different call than they have in the past few years. The choices in front of students are to find a job and work, or to invest in their education. Education seems a sweet deal. But it is critical to remember that the cost of education can easily be anywhere from 70K to 230K. Tuition and living expenses have to be considered the minimum costs. Other things like trips and interviewing suits won’t be included, and that can add substantially to a student’s budget. It is not uncommon for students to graduate with a quarter of a million dollars in debt after a higher degree.
The biggest consideration that a prospective student takes in figuring out whether or not to go to school is the return on the investment. Or in other words, does it make sense to take out this massive loan? In other words, does this investment actually pay off? The ROI is the measure that people use to understand their return on investment especially when a large loan will be used to pay for the tuition and expenses. In the current economy, where job growth is sluggish at best, the opportunity cost for a prospective student in terms of a large loan is very high. As a result, we see what can be expected in situations of low returns and high costs; we see a decline in application numbers. According to BizJournals.com, “the entering class for Fall 2013 is smaller than usual. Applications were down 25 to 30 percent, to about 2500. Applications soared to 4,300 a few years back.”
Dean Kevin Johnson wanted to clarify his institution’s position. “We are not scaling back. We have no intentions to cut the class. Applications are down and we are still taking the very best.”
California law schools have been hit hard by the downturn in the state’s legal market. New graduates find it hard to find good jobs. The law school dean mentioned that NY, D.C, and California were hit hardest. UC Davis dean Johnson finally commented, “We are looking at being very prudent in how we spend money, we may not fill vacant positions but we are not going to lay off staff, that’s for sure.”