But while the value of an undergraduate degree for a prospective law student is subject to considerable debate, it is clear that the “prestige” associated with the school ultimately matters to a lot of people--even if they are unwilling to admit it. And, at least to some, it certainly matters in the law school context. Sometimes, you can almost notice the change in how someone looks at you or the way their eyes widen a bit out of a newfound respect for how intelligent they now assume you are simply because you attend a certain school. I say that with a hint of sarcasm, but I do understand the practical implication that attending a higher ranked college implies higher test scores and higher high school GPAs, which are supposed to coincide with a higher level of intelligence. However, once all of these students end up at the same law school, I wonder how their undergraduate institution factors in, if at all.
I don’t claim to know the answer, but I am fairly curious. I attended Johns Hopkins University for college, and I now attend Penn Law with friends who have graduated from schools such as Harvard, Rutgers, Emory, Cornell, and Wesleyan, and I can’t seem to find a real distinction between any of them. Do students who go to “better” colleges come to law school with a “better” education that leads to a “better” legal career? Maybe there is something to be said about the kind of exposure one gains at a highly ranked college to some of the brightest students from across the country who build an environment of ambition and determination.
On the other hand, I ultimately feel undergraduate pedigree would merely factor into personality traits rather than success in law school and beyond. In the midst of Princeton Review and Vault and US News, I think we have been conditioned as a society to automatically assume that better schools mean smarter, more successful people, and to a degree it might very well be true. But in terms of the correlation between college and law school, I’m not quite convinced. Am I mistaken?