Tag Archives: My College Guide

ABA task force proposes sweeping changes to legal education

23 Sep

Moi has been posting about whether a degree is the best option. In Why go to college?
The societal push the last few years has been to have more kids go to college. Quite often schools are ranked on the percentage of kids that go directly to college from high school. So, counselors are following cultural cues they have received from administrators, parents, and the media.
Chris Stout lists Top Five Reasons to Go to College http://ezinearticles.com/?Top-Five-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Choose-To-Go-To-College&id=384395
Stout places the emphasis on the college experience and the fact that college is not just a place for possible career training. Forbes. Com published Five Reasons Not to Go to College http://www.forbes.com/2006/04/15/dont-go-college_cx_lh_06slate_0418skipcollege.html Some people discover their passion earlier in life than others.Forbes.Com addresses its comments at those folks. The calculation is that if one already knows what they want to do, college could be an unnecessary detour. A US News and World Report article estimated the value of a college degree http://www.usnews.com/education/articles/2008/10/30/how-much-is-that-college-degree-really-worth

The calculation for pursuing a professional degree is different. One must not only look at personal satisfaction, but earning potential.

Tamar Lewin reported in the New York Times article, Task Force Backs Changes in Legal Education System:

Faced with rising student debt and declining applications to law schools, a task force of the American Bar Association is calling for sweeping changes in legal education, including training people without law degrees to provide limited legal services and opening the bar to those who have not completed four years of college and three years of law school.
The report, to be issued on Friday, does not refer specifically to President Obama’s suggestion last month that law schools might limit classes to two years, and have students spend their third year clerking or practicing in a firm. But it did recommend the elimination of the rules that law students must have 45,000 minutes in a classroom to graduate and that they cannot get credit for field placements that are paid.
The report describes an urgent need for change in the nation’s legal education.
“The system faces considerable pressure because of the price many students pay, the large amounts of student debt, consecutive years of sharply falling applications, and dramatic changes, possibly structural, in the jobs available to law graduates,” it said. “These have resulted in real economic stresses on law school, damage to career and economic prospects of many recent graduates, and diminished public confidence in the system of legal education.”
It called the predicament of the many recent graduates who may never get the kind of jobs they anticipated “particularly compelling.”
The report is still a draft, to be distributed for comment, then considered at the bar association’s 2014 meeting. If adopted there, it will be influential but not binding on either law schools or state bar associations.
Randall T. Shepard, the former Indiana chief justice who was chairman of the task force, said that within the group, the most controversial sections were those dealing with how legal education is financed and with the accreditation standards.
The report criticizes the practice of most law schools to provide little aid to needy students, reserving most of their scholarships for those with the highest credentials in part to help raise the school’s rankings. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/education/task-force-backs-changes-in-legal-education-system.html?ref=education

Here is the press release from the ABA:

News > ABA News > ABA News Archives > 2013 > 09
ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education issues draft report on proposed reforms to pricing, accrediting and licensing
« Experts predict more divided decisions when Supreme Court takes on controversial cases in new term
Experts from architect, contractor groups to discuss federal P3 projects, aging infrastructure at ABA event »
ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education issues draft report on proposed reforms to pricing, accrediting and licensing
By John Glynn
CHICAGO, Sept. 20, 2013 — Stating that the system of legal education in the United States is widely admired around the world but faces serious challenges, the American Bar Association Task Force on the Future of Legal Education today issued its draft report with recommendations.
Key proposals call for changes in the pricing of legal education, liberalizing or eliminating certain accreditation standards, and speeding the pace of innovation and practical-skills training at law schools. The draft also calls on courts and bar authorities to devise new frameworks for licensing legal service providers.
“The Task Force believes that if the participants in legal education continue to act in good faith on the recommendations presented here, with an appreciation of the urgency of coordinated change, significant benefits for students, society, and the system of legal education can be brought about quickly, and a foundation can be established for continuous adaptation and improvement,” the draft report states.
The Task Force is soliciting public comment on the draft that will help the panel prepare a final report for consideration by the ABA House of Delegates. Neither the draft report nor the final report represents the policy or positions of the ABA.
“While the Task Force is not finished with its work, this draft report represents our effort thus far to formulate solid proposals to ensure that legal education in the United States remains viable in light of substantial economic and structural changes,” said Task Force Chair Randall T. Shepard, former chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
“We look forward to receiving additional public comment to supplement the hearings and comments process that we have conducted over the last year,” Shepard continued. “Our goal is to produce a final report that will be as comprehensive and effective as possible while taking into account all the views that came to our attention.”
Said ABA President James R. Silkenat: “Legal education in the United States is the best in the world, but it must continue to evolve to match the rapid changes that are taking place in legal practice in the United States. The Task Force’s draft report was informed by a thoroughly open process, which is important, given the gravity and complexity of the issues. The draft report represents the hard work and broad-based inquiry that ABA leadership expected from our insightful Task Force members, who represent a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives.
“We are grateful for the Task Force’s continuing efforts under the leadership of Justice Shepard,” Silkenat continued. “Thanks to the Task Force’s work, the legal community will be able to have a full, engaged discussion with all stakeholders concerning the future of legal education. This is a topic that is critical to our profession and essential to the delivery of legal services in the United States.”
The Task Force was commissioned in July 2012 by then-ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III and supported by ABA leadership, including Silkenat and Immediate Past President Laurel G. Bellows.
To prepare the draft report and recommendations, the Task Force reviewed literature on problems and solutions. It met throughout the year to review and test potential solutions, accelerating its original timetable in light of the seriousness of the developing challenges to legal education in the United States.
The Task Force solicited written comments from interested parties starting in September 2012, held two public hearings and conducted a webcasted mini-conference in April 2013, to which various knowledgeable parties were invited to share information and perspectives.
In addition, the Task Force chair met with the leadership of the Association of American Law Schools and conducted a forum for deans of ABA-approved law schools. The chair and other Task Force members held forums at the annual meeting of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the Conference of Chief Justices.
The report is available online here, http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/news/PDF/draft_report_of_aba_task_force_september_2013.pdf
or at the Task Force website. http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/taskforceonthefuturelegaleducation.html
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. To review our privacy statement click here. Follow the latest ABA news at http://www.ambar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.
This entry was posted on Fri Sep 20 01:00:00 CDT 2013 and filed under News Releases and Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Whether a person chooses to attend a graduate or professional school is a very personal decision and there is no one right answer. One thing the current economic climate has taught many is there are no guarantees in life, even with degree.

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work.


Should colleges be career schools? Saving the liberal arts education

Brookings paper: Is college a good investment?

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

Dr. Wilda ©

Should colleges be career schools? Saving the liberal arts education

2 Jan

There is a continuing debate about the value of a liberal arts education. My College Guide defines a liberal arts education in Julie Bogart’s What Are Liberal Arts?

What do colleges mean by “liberal arts”?

In its broadest of terms, it’s an education that provides an overview of the arts, humanities (the study of the human condition), social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences. “Artes liberals are rooted in classical antiquity and refer to the general skills (=artes) a free person (=liberals) needed to contribute meaningfully to society,” shared Concordia University associate professor, Dr. Michael Thomas. “Today, we intend for this to translate into life-long, self-motivated learners who can flourish in——even transform ——the world.”

Some of the more common majors include: anthropology, communication, English, history, language and linguistics, philosophy, political science, math, psychology and sociology. Unlike the colleges and universities that offer these majors, other Some schools are strictly liberal arts colleges—meaning that all of their majors are considered liberal arts. http://mycollegeguide.org/articles/8/145/what-are-liberal-arts

One of the most prominent liberal arts colleges is Harvard College of Harvard University.

According to Harvard Admission’s post, The Value of a Liberal Arts Education, at the Harvard site:

A Harvard education is a liberal education — that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry undertaken without concern for topical relevance or vocational utility. This kind of learning is not only one of the enrichments of existence; it is one of the achievements of civilization. It heightens students’ awareness of the human and natural worlds they inhabit. It makes them more reflective about their beliefs and choices, more self-conscious and critical of their presuppositions and motivations, more creative in their problem-solving, more perceptive of the world around them, and more able to inform themselves about the issues that arise in their lives, personally, professionally, and socially. College is an opportunity to learn and reflect in an environment free from most of the constraints on time and energy that operate in the rest of life.

A liberal education is also a preparation for the rest of life. The subjects that undergraduates study and, as importantly, the skills and habits of mind they acquire in the process, shape the lives they will lead after they leave the academy. Some of our students will go on to become academics; many will become physicians, lawyers, and businesspeople. All of them will be citizens, whether of the United States or another country, and as such will be helping to make decisions that may affect the lives of others. All of them will engage with forces of change — cultural, religious, political, demographic, technological, planetary. All of them will have to assess empirical claims, interpret cultural expressions, and confront ethical dilemmas in their personal and professional lives. A liberal education gives students the tools to face these challenges in an informed and thoughtful way.


Commentators and educators are increasingly asking about a liberal arts education because so many liberal arts graduates have difficulties finding their first job after college.

Sal Gentile of PBS’ Need to Know asks Is a liberal arts degree worth it?

That said, several experts are pushing back on the idea that diverting public funds from the liberal arts to science and engineering departments will make America more competitive in the long run. Michael Crow, a science policy analyst and president of Arizona State University, wrote in Slate last week that the role of public universities should not be purely vocational.

The objective of public universities should not be to produce predetermined numbers of particular types of majors but, rather, to focus on how to produce individuals who are capable of learning anything over the course of their lifetimes,” Crow wrote. “Every college student should acquire thorough literacy in science and technology as well as the humanities and social sciences.”

In support of his argument, Crow offered an interesting hypothetical: “Inspired engineering, in other words, could come as a consequence of familiarity with the development of counterpoint in Baroque music or cell biology. Or even the construction methods of indigenous tribes.” To the educational pragmatist, this scenario might seem far-fetched. How might a background in polyphonic melodies inform the design of, say, a bridge or aqueduct? If Scott or any other jobs-minded governor is looking for ways to cut the fat out of the public education system, the study of melodic counterpoints in post-Renaissance music would seem to be a prime candidate for the chopping block.

Except some of our most revered, influential innovators — and, not incidentally, job creators — took their inspiration from disciplines that are arguably even more obscure than music. Steve Jobs, who was neither a computer programmer nor a hardware engineer, famously told graduates of Stanford University in 2005 that one of the most influential and lasting experiences in his brief tenure at Reed College was his dabbling in calligraphy. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily-need/is-a-liberal-arts-degree-worth-it/12107/

Perhaps the most cogent defense of a liberal arts education comes from a 2008 Inside Higher Education article.

Victor E. Ferrall, Jr. writes in the article, Can Liberal Arts Colleges Be Saved?

As the steady decline in the demand for liberal education shows, the Case is not persuasive to those who are not pre-sold, i.e. those who need to be persuaded. Consider the following Case elements:

(1) Even though it won’t get you a job, a liberal education really is useful because it teaches students how to think critically.

The “critical thinking” mantra is an especially good example of embracing a bad argument solely because it is not laughable on its face. Never mind that no one knows what “critical,” as opposed to plain good, thinking is, or that there is no reason to suppose that one is more likely to become a critical thinker studying English literature than business management, or that there is certainly no reason to suspect that English literature professors are themselves more critical thinkers, or more capable of teaching critical thinking than business management professors. Yet no single assertion is more central to the Case made for liberal arts educations than the claim it will make you a more critical thinker, whatever that is.

(2) A liberal education best provides oral and written communication skills.

It is certainly true that a liberal education can provide these skills, but is it more true than for career-based education (or for that matter for the education that comes from being in the workplace)? There is no convincing evidence that the liberally educated are more effective communicators and the fact that the assertion is totally unsupported undercuts the Case as a whole.

(3) Liberal arts colleges provide an international education.

We live in a global world and it behooves liberal arts colleges to internationalize their curricula to the maximum extent possible. This does not mean, however, that the following common liberal arts promotion makes sense: “The globe is shrinking, we live in an international world, and our college recognizes these important facts by encouraging all students to spend a semester abroad….”

(4) You can study the subjects you like best and are most interested in.

In an effort to attract students, liberal arts colleges have reduced, and some have even eliminated, course requirements. To the extent they do so they turn over liberal education curriculum design to students who by definition are not yet liberally educated and virtually insure that their education will be less broad, less liberal. Maria Montessori’s maxim “follow the child” may make sense in first grade, but not at a liberal arts college unless, of course, the college’s education philosophy is that students will find liberal education on their own without the college’s guidance, in which case why should they spend $200,000 for 26 months?

(5) You will get good grades and this will help you get into the graduate or professional school of your choice.

Colleges don’t explicitly include grade inflation in their pitches to students, but everybody knows it is going on. In fact, grade inflation serves only to cheapen the value of a liberal arts degree and signals to students that a liberal education is simply a part of playing the credential-seeking game, of getting ahead. Further, since everyone is doing it, it doesn’t work very well.

The Case That Needs to Be Made

In contrast to these frivolous, disingenuous or wrong claims, the distinctively desirable features of a liberal arts education are de-emphasized or omitted entirely from the Case because it is assumed by admissions staff that they won’t be believed or understood.

(1) The quality of a liberal education that makes it so effective is that the subject matter studied is not “use-eh-full.”

It is the very “uselessness” of what liberal arts students study that opens the door to their appreciating knowing for the sake of knowing, that drives home the point that learning is of value in and of itself whether or not it leads directly to a marketable skill. It is possible to realize these things while studying banking or engineering, but it is much more difficult because the student is constantly distracted from the utility of acquiring knowledge by the utility of the knowledge being acquired. The genius of the American system of liberal education is that it eliminates this distraction. Its uselessness separates knowing from need to know, learning from need to learn, desire to understand from need to understand.

(2) The best teaching is at liberal arts colleges.

If liberal arts colleges pay attention in hiring, training, supporting and tenuring faculty, there is really no way universities, no matter now highly ranked, can match them in teaching excellence. The mission of universities is diverse and complex, the mission of liberal arts colleges is singular, to provide a liberal education to undergraduates….

(3) Your life will be fuller and richer if you read Aristotle, Descartes and Rousseau.

There is no doubt that this is a tough sell for college bound, wealth-seeking, “what’s in it for me” philistines and their nervous parents, but enrichment is inescapably central to the value of the liberal arts. Before I came to the academy, I was a lawyer. I know to a certainty that one does not learn how to practice law until one starts doing it. It is not learned in law school. Therefore, a career-directed, pre-law program at the undergraduate level makes no sense, i.e., even though vocational, it is neither useful nor enriching. By far the best, and often the only, way to learn any career skill is by practicing it. Career-directed courses are always of limited value; a liberal education is always enriching. The wise person, therefore, seeks both a liberal education and an on-the-job career education.


In the early 19th century, subject matter that made up the liberal arts curriculum was fixed: the ancient classics, rhetoric, logic, Greek and Latin. It was what a gentleman, a liberally educated person, had to know. Today, while the curriculum is flexible, taking advantage of the special skills and interests of the faculty, it still defines liberal education at each liberal arts college. It is the responsibility of the faculty — not the students, not the administration — to create a curriculum and the goal in doing so must be to make the best possible use of the faculty to insure that the college’s graduates are securely launched on a lifetime of liberal education….

There is nothing wrong with career-based courses and there is nothing wrong with encouraging students to pursue them, but not in lieu or instead of liberal arts courses. “Take them in the evening, in the summer, or before or after you graduate, but for the 26 months you are with us you will pursue a liberal education full time” is the correct rule for liberal arts colleges.

Liberal arts colleges, like many institutions, are being forced to adapt to the tumult in the economy.

Justin Pope of AP writes in the article, Liberal arts colleges forced to evolve with market:

First, get students in the door by offering what they do want, namely sports and extracurricular opportunities that might elude them at bigger schools. Offer vocational subjects like business, criminal justice and exercise science that students and parents think — rightly or wrongly — will lead to better jobs.

Then, once they’re enrolled, look for other ways to sprinkle the liberal arts magic these colleges still believe in, even if it requires a growing stretch to call yourself a liberal arts college.

“We’re liberal arts-aholics,” says Adrian President Jeffrey Docking, who has added seven sports and two pre-professional degree programs since arriving in 2005 — and nearly doubled enrollment to about 1,750.

But he’s also a realist.

“I say this with regret,” said Docking, an ethicist by training. But “you really take your life into your own hands thinking that a pure liberal arts degree is going to be attractive enough to enough 18-year-olds that you fill your freshman classes.”

In ancient Greece, liberal arts were the subjects that men free from work were at leisure to pursue. Today, the squishy definition still includes subjects that don’t prepare for a particular job (but can be useful for many). English, history, philosophy, and other arts and sciences are the traditional mainstays. But these days, some prefer a more, well, liberal definition that’s more about teaching style than subject matter.

“I refer to it as learning on a human scale,” said William Spellman, a University of North Carolina-Asheville historian who directs a group of 27 public liberal arts colleges. “It’s about small classes, access to faculty, the old tutorial model of being connected with somebody who’s not interested only in their disciplinary area but culture broadly defined.”

Does it work? It’s true that research tying college majors to salaries can make the generic liberal arts degrees look unappealing. But technical training can become obsolete, and students are likely to change careers several times. These schools argue you’re better off, both in life and work, simply learning to think.

Research does point to broader benefits of studying liberal arts in small settings, in areas like leadership, lifelong learning and civic engagement. Liberal arts colleges are proven launching pads to the top of business, government and academia (graduating 12 U.S. presidents, six chief justices and 12 of 53 Nobel laureates over a recent decade who attended American colleges, by one researcher’s count). Foreign delegations often visit to observe, and big U.S. universities are trying to recreate mini-liberal arts colleges within their campuses. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765619049/Liberal-arts-colleges-forced-to-evolve-with-market.html

The dilemma is an old one of short-term gain vs. a solid foundation for the future.

Moi wrote in Producing employable liberal arts grads:

One of the goals of education is to give the student sufficient basic skills to be able to leave school and be able to function at a job or correctly assess their training needs. One of the criticisms of the current education system is that it does not adequately prepare children for work or for a career. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/borrowing-from-work-schools-teach-career-mapping/ A liberal arts education has been considered the gold standard. A Washington Post article has some good tips about how a liberal arts education could be made valuable in the current economic climate.

Andy Chan, vice president of the Wake Forest University Office of Personal and Career Development, and Jacquelyn S. Fetrow, Reynolds Professor of Computational Biophysics and dean of Wake Forest College write in the Washington Post about producing employable liberal arts grads. In the article, Six tips for liberal arts colleges to produce employable grads, Chan and Fetrow give the following advice:

Here are a few recommendations for liberal arts colleges to more deeply realize and communicate the value of the liberal education for the world of work today:

Develop partnerships that bridge the career development office with the faculty and academic advisors….

Provide opportunities for faculty to understand the needs of employers. When professors understand why employers hire certain students, they can articulate how the academic material can be applied variety of work settings and help students recognize and better market this knowledge and skills. They can also more effectively mentor students and provide career advice and connections.

Make internships and/or research projects an integral part of the student experience. Make sure the student demonstrates the drive to stick with a research problem for longer than a semester. A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 84 percent of executives at private sector and non-profit organizations expressed a desire for students to complete a significant project before graduation to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and a passion for a particular areas, as well as their acquisition of broad analytical, problem solving and communication skills.

Offer credit-based courses in career development so that students learn the fundamentals for lifelong career management….

Bring recent alumni from a variety of careers to campus and perhaps into the classroom to share their experiences for how they utilize their liberal education….

Develop partnerships between the liberal arts college and the business school to enable faculty and students to work and learn across boundaries….

There are many possible solutions to help students realize and articulate the relevancy of the liberal education to the world of work. The one requirement is that liberal arts colleges must make personal and career development a mission-critical part of the undergraduate experience – and they must collaborate with faculty in the endeavor. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/college-inc/post/six-tips-for-liberal-arts-colleges-to-produce-employable-grads/2012/03/31/gIQAQb6EnS_blog.html


It is difficult for even seasoned economic forecasters to predict the future.

In Is a business major in college the right move? Moi said:

Melissa Korn has a provocative Wall Street Journal article, Wealth or Waste? Rethinking the Value of a Business Major:

Undergraduate business majors are a dime a dozen on many college campuses. But according to some, they may be worth even less.

More than 20% of U.S. undergraduates are business majors, nearly double the next most common major, social sciences and history.

The proportion has held relatively steady for the past 30 years, but now faculty members, school administrators and corporate recruiters are questioning the value of a business degree at the undergraduate level.

The biggest complaint: The undergraduate degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don’t develop enough critical thinking and problem-solving skills through long essays, in-class debates and other hallmarks of liberal-arts courses.

Companies say they need flexible thinkers with innovative ideas and a broad knowledge base derived from exposure to multiple disciplines. And while most recruiters don’t outright avoid business majors, companies in consulting, technology and even finance say they’re looking for candidates with a broader academic background.

William Sullivan, co-author of “Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession,” says the divide between business and liberal-arts offerings, however unintentional, has hurt students, who see their business instruction as “isolated” from other disciplines….http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304072004577323754019227394.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_editorsPicks_2

As the environment becomes more unstable and uncertain, those graduating in a time of flux need to be adaptable.


Critical thinking is an essential trait of an educated person https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/critical-thinking-is-an-essential-trait-of-an-educated-person/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                        http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                              http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                     https://drwilda.com/