Why do students go to law school? The answer seems obvious. Students undertake law degrees because they are eager to pursue a rewarding and challenging career within the legal profession. But why do students drop-out of law school? This question is a little more complicated. We examine how to address law student attrition rates.
In the UK, law students are more likely to drop out of undergraduate courses than students in many other disciplines. In addition to this, research from the Bar Standards Board found that minority or disadvantaged students are more likely to perform badly on assessments compared to their peers.
Evidence from the US indicates a similar attainment gap.
What are the Factors Impacting Student Attrition in Law Schools?
To start, it’s helpful to look at the reasons why student dropout or perform poorly to gain a better understanding of how to improve these outcomes.
- Financial barriers: Higher education can be expensive, and law school can be particularly so. Many students undertaking law degrees have to work to support themselves throughout their time at university or to pay their fees. This can have a significant impact on class attendance, study time and ultimately, progression. For disadvantaged students, this financial burden can be even greater, leading to an even greater impact.
- Academic barriers: Undertaking a law degree is competitive and demanding. Many students are unprepared for the tough academic requirements and struggle to keep up with their course load or content.
- Personal barriers: Whether course related or personal, many students are suffering behind the scenes. Their emotional or physical wellbeing may affected. This can impact successful progression through university.
Reducing Student Attrition
The solution to many of these problems around student attrition can be found in providing timely and effective support to students. Students may need help with financial aid, personal tutoring or a special circumstance allowance. The challenge for many education providers is identifying these issues before it’s too late. Often manual processes are administrative heavy and identify too late the warning signs. Staff need immediate alerts to declining student attendance, poor engagement and a stall in progression.
To reduce human error and ensure no students fall through the cracks, HEIs should invest in modern technologies designed to improve the student journey. To improve student success outcomes such as retention and attainment, solutions need to:
- Track student attendance & engagement
- Identify at-risk students
- Enable early alerts to staff
- Create and review student case interventions
This way staff can spend more time reaching out to and supporting students. In turn this will boost student attendance and engagement, and improve law student attrition rates.