St. Francis School of Law participated in the nationwide Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) for 2015. With 78% of St. Francis students responding, 93% said they would definitely or probably choose to attend St. Francis again. This statistic compared favorably with 81% of the over 20,000 LSSSE law student respondents nationwide. In addition, 87% of St. Francis students responding rated their experience as excellent or good, which compared favorably with 84% of law students nationwide.
The LSSSE data allows St. Francis to compare its online Juris Doctor program with other participating law schools that are accredited nationally, by the State of California, with 3rd and 4th tier ABA law schools, and with law schools with under 500 students (the “comparison law school groups”). St. Francis stood out in several areas.
The survey results paint an excellent picture of St. Francis’ faculty, with 93% of students reporting receiving prompt feedback, written or oral, from faculty on their academic performance. This compared favorably against 56%/58% of students reporting prompt feedback across the comparison law school groups. St. Francis’ online program design with small size classes limited to 15 students allows this type of interaction.
The law school’s academic emphasis on writing also stood out in the LSSSE results for St. Francis, with 77% of students reporting more than 6 papers of fewer than 5 pages (compared favorably against 23% to 26% of students the comparison law school groups) and 78% of students reporting writing 7 to 10 papers of more than 5 pages (compared with under 20% at the comparison schools). Writing is a core skill for becoming a lawyer and St. Francis students do significantly more writing than students in the comparison law schools. Again, this is something facilitated by our smaller class sizes and our focus on practical skills.
The quality and accessibility of St. Francis’ faculty also stood out in the LSSSE results. St. Francis faculty members are seasoned practitioners with substantial practice experience in the field. Each class section is limited to 15 students, which facilitates significant meaningful faculty student interaction. About 80% of St. Francis students responding to the LSSSE survey reported positive relationships with St. Francis faculty as well as with peers (rating at least 6 out of 7).
Our state-of-the-art online learning management system and live interactive classes facilitate a high level of interactive engagement. About 87% of St. Francis students responding to the survey reported frequently asking questions in class, and 80% reported frequently discussing ideas outside of class.
The St. Francis online J.D. program’s emphasis on practical professional skills also stood out, with 100% of St. Francis upper level students responding indicating perceived gains in thinking critically, and 73% reporting gains in solving real-world problems and acquiring job- or work-related knowledge and skills.
St. Francis students also reported a high level of satisfaction with academic support, with 80% of students using academic advising who reported 100% satisfaction with academic advising and 100% reporting satisfaction with personal counseling. Eighty percent of St. Francis students reported St. Francis provided the support they needed to succeed academically.
The academic rigor or the St. Francis program also stood out in the LSSSE survey results. St. Francis students were more likely to come to class prepared, ask questions during class, prepare multiple drafts of their assignments, email faculty, and discuss assignments with a faculty member than students in the comparison law school groups. In addition, St. Francis students more frequently reported that their exams challenged students to do their best than students in the comparison groups. They reported more frequently memorizing concepts, analyzing elements, synthesizing ideas, applying theories to practical concepts and making judgments, including assessing the soundness of others’ conclusions than students in the comparison groups.
The LSSSE survey is a national survey in which more than 42,000 law students were invited to participate and over 21,849 responded this past spring. About 37% of the participating schools were public and 43% of schools were private.
Among law students nationwide, debt is a significant concern. Approximately 34% of all law students nationwide expect to owe more than $120,000 in student debt upon graduation. St. Francis students for the most part anticipated owing no educational debt from attending law school.
These are just some of the distinctive features of St. Francis School of Law’s truly innovative online Juris Doctor program.