It really bothers me when law schools resort to “used car salesmen” tactics to try to induce law students to sign up for school. Say what you will about the value of legal education, but it’s not like buying a Sham-Wow. Students can’t be influenced by “special, limited time” offers when trying to decide if and where to invest three years of their time. If nothing else, you’re entering into the lottery to win a legal career, not an iPad Mini.
Law schools that try to exploit “impulse buy” reactions to fill their seats should be ashamed of themselves. They are taking advantage of kids — twenty-somethings who don’t have lawyers or accountants or appraisers representing their interests. Law schools are at a huge informational advantage concerning the true value of their services, value that they try to hide at every turn from independent third parties. Law students are trying to cobble together what they can based on word of mouth, Google, and some published rankings. Turning the screws on these prospective students with offers that “expire in 24 hours” is a good business strategy if you are trying to sell them a toaster, but it’s a disgraceful thing to do for a place that claims to be an “institution of higher learning.”
I can only hope that anybody who received this “hard-sell” email from this law school did the smart thing and just walked away…
The email comes from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Our tipster explains that it went out to people who had received partial scholarship offers from the school, but nonetheless withdrew their applications. WUSTL is now making full scholarship offers, but there’s a catch. Here’s the email:
We are excited to announce that additional scholarship funds have become available. As an outstanding applicant, Washington University School of Law is able to offer you a full tuition scholarship of $48,345 for your first year of law school with the same amount guaranteed for your 2L and 3L years for a total of $145,035 for the three years of law school.
We can only keep this opportunity open for 24 hours because these funds are limited. If you are interested in accepting this offer and matriculating at Washington U Law this year, you will need to let us know by June 13, 5pm CT.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you here this fall!
I think we all know why Washington didn’t make full scholarship offers to these people months ago. They were hoping they wouldn’t have to. But, as law school applications continue to fall, Washington University Law couldn’t fill all their seats, and now they’re trying to buy people. So they can cut the crap about being “excited” as if additional scholarship funds just magically became available.
It’s annoying that the Washington sales people think that their potential students are too stupid to understand that.
But hey, potentially retarded would-be WUSTL 1Ls, you better respond IMMEDIATELY, because the magic funds could disappear in a poof of smoke at any time! In 24 hours, the funds will self-destruct.
What’s annoying about the 24-hour thing is that it is an obvious lie wrapped around a more subtle lie. The obvious lie is that there is a timer on the offer. There is no timer. Just like there is no time pressure when you see a commercial for Slap-Chop that says “call in the next 20 minutes and you’ll get a second Slap-Chop free.” There’s no dude on the other end who starts a damn stopwatch after you see the commercial. It’s obvious that WUSTL is just trying to fill their seats, and if the offer had a shred of intellectual integrity, it’d probably say it was on a “first come, first serve” basis. They’ll offer full scholarships until they fill enough seats so as not to be embarrassed, and not one person more.
But the more subtle lie is that there probably really isn’t any meaningful time pressure on the first come, first serve nature of the thing anyway. It’s the middle of June. Remember, our tipster says this went out to people who have mostly already withdrawn their applications to the school. You’re dealing with a pool of people who have probably committed (or at least committed in their minds) to another institution — probably a better ranked institution than Washington University School of Law if WUSTL is offering them full rides — who would have to extricate themselves from that commitment and change course. That’s got to be a vanishingly small group of people who would consider doing that.
I’m willing to bet all the money in my pocket that the people willing to consider this offer can take some time to consider it! More than a day. Probably more than a week. In fact, if you ignored this email when you first saw it because you were not going to be pressured into making a snap decision by a desperate law school, but you want to take the weekend to look at your budget and think about it, I promise you WUSTL will still take your call on Monday.
Not that I’d consider it, given how they approached you. Going to law school on full scholarship is generally a good thing, but when somebody tries to induce you into a major commitment without even giving you proper time for proper reflection, it’s wise to be suspicious. Ain’t nothing “free” in this world.