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First of a series of long-expected changes in the operation of the Law School was announced last night, when it was revealed that admission requirements have been greatly stiffened in an effort to reduce the number of law students who fail each year.
The vote of the Corporation, confirmed this week by the Board of Overseers, containing the change in admission requirements which will take effect at the beginning of the next academic year, reads: "Only graduates of approved colleges presenting scholastic records which meet the standard set by the Committee on Admissions will be received as candidates for the degree of Bachelor, of laws."
Since 1927, it has been the policy of the Law School to admit all graduates of "colleges of high grade", who ranked in the upper three quarters of the class, and graduates of other colleges who ranked in the first quarter of the class.
The difficulty of administering these rules, and the number of students failing in their first year, indicated to the Faculty Committee appointed to study the situation, that too many men with poor college records were being admitted to the School.
Thirty percent of the 566 first year students in the Law School last year were dropped at the end of the year. In 1935, 22 percent first year students failed, while in 1934, 145 first year men out of a class of 588 failed. The enrollment this year, unusually large, is 1496, with 627 first year students.
Edmund M. Morgan, Acting Dean of the Law School, who announced the new changes, in commenting on the new admission requirements, said:
"In 1926, the Law School began to require from each applicant a transcript of his college record. In 1935, it had available in usable form the college records of more than 4,100 men who, during the period 1928-1934, had entered the Law School and finished the work of the first year. The Curriculum Committee of the Faculty made a detailed study of these records in correlation with the results of the examinations taken by these men in the Law School, and particularly with the results of their first year examinations. They found what has often been found before but always quickly forgotten, that there is a high correlation between success in college and success in the Law School, and that there is a marked variance in the standards of performance required in the colleges. For example, one New England college of high grade sent 72 men with approved records of whom 62.5 per cent failed, and only two obtained an honor grade. Of the men who attained in college a mark under 82, three quarters failed, none received an honor grade, and less than 12 per cent received a respectable grade. Another New England college sent 65 men, of whom 20 per cent failed, and of those who had a record of C, or better, only 15 per cent failed. Again, of 803 Harvard College graduates, more than 21 per cent, who had college records of C, or better, obtained honor grades. Of those having college records under C, more than 70 per cent failed in Law School, none made an A record, and only 2 1-2 per cent made a B record.
"It is too obvious for comment that the men from the first college with records under 82, and the men from Harvard with records under C, ought not to have been received."
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