Incoming Class Bright, Diverse

What do a brick mason, a respiratory therapist, a senior banker, a pizza manager and a clinical therapist have in common? They're all part of Willamette University College of Law's 2004 incoming class. The 181 new students, who range in age from 20 to 57 and include 39 percent women and 11 percent students of color, come from all walks of life. In addition to the professions previously mentioned, students list their former occupations as professor, athletic director, bookstore clerk, carpenter, data consultant, financial counselor, janitor, kitchen designer, legal secretary, life skills/treatment coordinator, tennis instructor, personal trainer, Nike, Inc. professional, airline ramp agent, registered nurse and tour guide, among many others.

This fascinating group of people hails from 82 different undergraduate institutions. Forty-two percent of them speak a second language and 47 percent have lived or studied abroad. One student taught English in Mongolia; another taught in the Czech Republic. One student got to know Europe up close and personal on the seat of a bicycle. Another climbed Mt. Fuji while helping a paraplegic friend make a successful ascent.

"It's important to have a diverse group of students that have a broad range of real life experiences," says Carolyn Dennis, Acting Director of Admissions at the law school. "Exposure to real life experiences gives students a different set of commitments to the study of law. These experiences may also better prepare them to be good lawyers. Those are the kinds of students we get at Willamette."

This year, the College of Law received 1,263 applications for admission; the highest number in the school's history. That's 96 percent higher than it was four years ago. It is also 32 percent higher than last year.

The higher number of applications means WUCL can choose the best of the best. The percentage of applicants admitted is now 39 percent; the lowest in the school’s history. "Four years ago, the acceptance rate was 74 percent and the Long-Range Plan called for a reduction to 39 percent by 2007," says Law Dean Symeon Symeonides. "We have reached this goal three years ahead of schedule."

The median LSAT of the entering class is now at 69 percent. Four years ago, it was at 61 percent and the Long-Range Plan called for an increase to 65 percent by 2003.

"These improvements are due to the hard work of our Admissions Office staff under the able leadership of Carolyn Dennis and her predecessor Larry Seno," said Dean Symeonides. "But they are also due to the dedication and accomplishments of the law faculty, which make this a more attractive school for prospective law students."