Law Schools, Reader Polls, Texas, Transfer Students

Should Transfer Students Be Allowed to Be Valedictorians?

Maybe for some people, hearing that someone you’ve met was class valedictorian for high school, college, or law school is still impressive. I’m not one of those people, but maybe I’m in the minority. A controversy is currently brewing at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law over this year’s choice for valedictorian.

Some soon-to-be graduates are upset that a transfer student earned the title. It’s just not fair, they say, to swoop in after an easy-peasy year at some lower-ranked school and show up at a new school to demolish everyone else’s GPAs by comparison.

Let’s see the details of what’s happening down in Texas, and then take a poll: do you think transfer students should be able to earn the valedictorian title?

Here’s what our tipster wrote:

SMU just notified the valedictorian for the Class of 2012… And she is a transfer student from South Texas College of Law. It might be helpful for those thinking about attending SMU to know that if they want to graduate with Order of the Coif, Magna Cum Laude honors, or as valedictorian, they have a much better chance of doing do if they spend thousands of dollars less to go to a Tier 3 or lower school and then transfer to SMU. I know a lot of students whose grades would be much higher if all the strictly curved classes from 1L year didn’t count toward their GPAs.

Ouch. I can’t help but wonder if our tipster was in the running, and got burned by the transfer student. Maybe he has a fair point, but my only advice for students concerned about this is: forget about it.

It’s honestly not worth worrying about. Getting jobs does, at some level, depend on your class ranking, yes. But it’s not worth carrying a chip on your shoulder over this. In the long run, it is simply not worth it.

The tipster followed up with us this morning, with the following update:

A number of students contacted the Dedman School of Law administrative offices yesterday, asking the school to look into a formal policy concerning the eligibility of transfer students to become valedictorian. While no policy has been announced, the administration has since named a “co-valedictorian.”

Therefore, the message conveyed remains the same: Matriculate to a T4 school, transfer, and become valedictorian. Hope this helps those trying to decide whether to spend the extra money to attend a better law school in the fall – you can always “upgrade” after a year!

I don’t think it’s as simple as he makes it sound. And if it is that simple, well crap. Maybe that valedictorian/transfer student deserves recognition for successfully figuring out how to work smarter instead of harder. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.

We’re not sure if grades from your first law school always carry over when you transfer (any transfer students who are reading — please enlighten us as to what your school does). But either way, assuming the student comes from a lower-ranked school, you can be sure that the curve was even worse at the school she transferred from.

We reached out to the SMU Law administration, but we have yet to hear back. If and when we do, we will update with their response.

In the meantime, what do y’all think? Is it fair for a transfer student to be valedictorian?

Should transfer students be allowed to earn valedictorian?

  • No. Transfers aren't real people anyway. (59%, 1,120 Votes)
  • Yes. End transfer student discrimination! (42%, 795 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,914

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