Robert Anderson

Professor of Law Pepperdine University School of Law

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Why would anybody think that students with a strong STEM background would make good lawyers? That's just not the type of reasoning power that the good/great lawyers use.

"Conventional wisdom suggests that GPAs in humanities disciplines may not be equivalent to GPAs in STEM fields, but there is little data that compares the two."

There are actually a number of high-quality works on the subject, which have shown quite clearly that humanities GPAs are greatly inflated. The seminal work on this subject may be Rojstaczer & Healy's 2010 article in Columbia University's Teachers College Record entitled 'Grading in American Colleges and Universities'. They found that relative to natural science GPAs, humanities GPAs are inflated by about .4 points (on a 4.0 scale), and humanities GPAs are also inflated relative to engineering and even social science GPAs. As the authors state in this excellent article: "We’ve looked at contemporary grades from over 160 colleges and universities in the United States with a combined enrollment of over 2,000,000 students and historical grades from over 80 schools..." Given that rigorous analysis of such a large data set concludes that humanities grades are disproportionately higher, hypothesizing that the US News emphasis on raw GPA irrespective of major could lead schools to admit inferior students is entirely reasonable.

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