The 2018 Applicant and Matriculant Study was designed as an update to earlier studies from 1998, 2005, and 2012. The purpose of those studies was to identify the factors students consider in deciding where to apply and where to matriculate for law school. In the current study, new questions were added to the surveys about factors such as motivation for attending law school and (for applicants only) factors that might prevent students from going to law school.
In November 2018, randomly selected samples of applicants and matriculants were invited to participate. The resulting samples of 1,964 applicant responses and 2,197 matriculant responses constituted a response rate of approximately 20% for each group. The applicant and matriculant samples were weighted to reflect the total population with respect to sex and race/ethnicity.
Subgroup analyses were conducted to identify differences in responses by applicant and matriculant groups across the following demographic subgroups: sex, race/ethnicity, age, first-generation status, undergraduate debt load, and LSAT score quartile. Using discriminant analysis techniques, we were able to identify five factors that were associated with the largest differences in importance ratings by applicants and matriculants between subgroups in five separate analyses. Questions related to student body factors were associated with the largest differences for gender and racial/ethnic subgroups. Questions related to student experience factors were associated with the largest differences for age and LSAT score quartile subgroups. Questions related to financial factors were associated with the largest differences for first-generation status and undergraduate debt load subgroups. Finally, questions related to law school reputation and employment were never associated with the largest differences between subgroups but were secondarily important in distinguishing between subgroups.
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