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There is little doubt as to what news item brought the most joy to indecisive, job-hunting undergraduates this week. Applications to the Law School leveled off in 1972 after four years of staggering increase. Combined with decreases at the Business and Med Schools, this fact provides new fodder for academic trend watchers.
The Law School, where applications sky-rocketed by over 100 per cent between 1968 and 1971, had only 29 more applicants this year. Applications at the Business School tell off for the second consecutive year, down almost 1000 from 1970, and the Med School received 63 fewer applications this year than last, when it reached an all-time peak of 3150.
Admissions officers offer the usual plethora of explanations: economic constraints, less confidence in business and legal institutions, decreasing interest in post-graduate study. But perhaps the most interesting one, new this year, is that prospective applicants, overwhelmed by their excessive numbers are reassessing their chances in huge applicant pools. The effect is that weaker candidates decide against applying in a judicious self-selectivity process.
The new reversal may have an opposite effect. Now shaky applicants who figured that the application increase would continue indefinitely are scurrying off to testing centers to retake Law Boards and Med Boards. But next year, when figures are collated again, they'll find that they have no monopoly on seizing the moment with this tactic of retreat and advance.
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