In researching law schools, a prospective student might want an idea of what students at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law really think about our school. Sure, you can get an idea from various posts and discussions, but how do we really feel about the stuff a prospective student cares about? We’ve gathered some of those thoughts here and hope you find them helpful as you consider your choices in law schools. This will be updated as we talk to students, but we will not attribute any of the quotes. We will also not make any of them up or edit them (except maybe to take a few out if this starts getting wicked long).
1. Do you like Catholic University law school? Be honest.
“I do. The school is small enough to feel familial and I feel like I’m getting a good education.”
“Yes. There’s a community feel to it. Small enough to know a bunch of the students. Big enough to feel like there’s plenty going on.”
“Yes. The building is very nice, the classrooms are spacious and comfortable. The Law library is also very nice.”
2. How are the teachers at Catholic University law school?
“For the most part, they’re good. There has only been one professor who I’ve considered to be a true train wreck, and she was a visiting lecturer. Otherwise, I’ve been pleased with the teachers.”
“They vary. Some are great. They are engaging and committed to helping the students get the most out of the course. Others are snoozers that stand in front of the class and read straight from the text.”
“There are a few that stand out. There are few that are bad. I think you get a fair shake from all of them and I’ve never felt like a professor didn’t care about how his students did.”
“Some are much better than others, but overall they all care about your success in school. They are certainly as competent as their cohorts up North Capitol Street.”
3. What is the atmosphere in class like at Catholic University law school?
“Depends on the class. For the most part you’ve got a few folks who pay attention and are prepared, a few folks who aren’t but like to give their two cents anyway, and a large number who never talk. Probably because they’re reading Perez Hilton instead of paying attention.”
“It depends on the prof, students, and subject matter. Profs that teach by the Socratic method can have an intense class atmosphere. The smaller classes tend to be more relaxed.”
“Even the tougher professors are supportive and understanding. But they’re tough when it comes to grading.”
“It varies. Your first year (or two if you are a night student) is with the same group of people. That being the case, a class tends to take on a personality of its own regardless of the subject or the professor. By the end of this first year or two, everyone knows who likes to speak in class, who finishes exams the fastest, etc. I was fortunate to find myself with a group of people I came to respect and appreciate. People who I hope will be my friend for years to come.”
4. Would you say the Catholic University law school administration is supportive and flexible or distant and rigid? Or something else altogether?
“It depends on the area. I’ve found the career office to be very flexible and very supportive. The registrar is slower than molasses in January. The financial aid folks are great.”
“The administration tries to be supportive and flexible, but it doesn’t always pull it off. It accommodates day students more than evening students. If you make the effort to meet with the deans and express your concerns they will listen, but it doesn’t mean anything will change.”
“From an evening student’s perspective, they’re in a tough spot. But it gets a little tiring to have just about everything scheduled during the day. But administrators are accessible and responsive. They really try to work with you when you need something.”
“Supportive yes. Flexible yes. Distant yes. Rigid yes. As with most legal questions the answer is ‘it all depends’. Do you have a sincere problem that only the Administration can solve, and is it within their power to solve it? if so, no worries my friend.”
5. How do you feel about the level of competitiveness at Catholic University law school? Do people help each other or just try to hide books from you?
“Honestly, I’ve been surprised at how non-competitive it is. As one of the more competitive people, it always amazes me at how few people worry about things like grades, class rank or the like. I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve felt that I couldn’t ask for help, and I’ve never felt like I’ve been screwed with as I’ve heard happens at other schools in the DC area. It’s a very collegial atmosphere. I actually get bitched at when I try to figure out who got what on what test. From what I gather from colleagues at other schools, that’s not normal.”
“One highlight of CUA is its nurturing environment. Of course there are a handful of competitive students, but for the most part everyone is encouraging. If you miss a class it won’t be hard to get notes from another student. If you’re having a hard time understanding a concept a fellow classmate will readily assist.”
“It’s not a competitive place really. At least I’ve never gotten that sense. Everyone’s trying to do well, but trying to get along with their classmates in that process. Rank and grades are probably not topics of group conversation too often.”
“Some people do, some people do not. It does not take long to figure out those people with an overinflated sense of self.”
6. How much work do you really do every day? Is it as hard as they say?
“Depends on the class. (God, I sound like a lawyer…every answer is ‘depends’) For classes I wasn’t familiar with, I put in a lot more time. For others, I did the required reading (which is always the biggest pain and time sink) and waited to really bear down until the end of the semester. A lot also depends on the kind of exam. I haven’t worked as hard at open book or closed book multiple choice exams as I have on closed book essay exams. In terms of hard, its only hard if you can’t think logically, can’t write or don’t want to take the time to put in the work. Otherwise it shouldn’t be considered that hard.”
“It really all depends on the classes and profs. Some assign more work than others. As an evening student I commit my weekends to studying in the library so there’s no daily breakdown. I probably spend 6-10 hours a week on lawschool work. It’s not easy, but if you are driven and focused, which most law students are, then it’s manageable.”
“For evening classes, I typically spend about 15 hours per week on homework and reading and stuff during the semester. Once the mid-semester rolls around that number will go up to get ready for exams.”
“The first semester of law school is the hardest. I spent about 16 hours studying during my first weekend of law school. Each weekend after that the hours dropped significantly. Now, on average, I work about 4 hours per weekend and 2-3 hours during the week. The subject matter is not hard. But it does at times require some “sweat equity” to grasp the more difficult concepts.”
7. Ever feel like you should have gone a school that’s more highly ranked?
“Sometimes, but only when I’m concerned about job hunting. I know I could do as well at a better school and I know I’ve had the opportunity to transfer, but I also enjoy being the big fish in a small pond. I would rather be top 5 here at CUA than in the middle ranks of some “better” school.”
“Sometimes. In the DC area, when you’re up against Georgetown and GW grads the market is competitive. Plus CUA has one of the lowest grading curves in the area, which puts its students at a disadvantage. Despite this, I still stand by my decision to attend CUA. It’s been a very positive experience.”
“Yes. There are times when I regret not going to a more highly ranked school or not transferring after first year. But it was a logical choice to stay. I was happy with my grades, my classmates, the environment. I was also happy that the school’s reputation is improving and many firms consider it underrated based on the performance of grads at those firms and agencies.”
“If I had been accepted to a higher ranked school I would have gone to it. No secret there. Of course, I only applied to schools in the Wash, DC area. I came to quickly realize that the rankings for schools not in the top 25 are bit screwy, and schools game the US News system. Catholic University could easily be ranked in the top 50 if the Administration wanted it. But I think there are more worthy goals than being ranked in the top 50. On the other hand, the professors at CUA do not get published as often as they should. They are much brighter than their track record, which suggests it is just a matter of effort.”
8. Looking back on your first year in school, anything you would have done differently?
“I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I was happy with how things worked out.”
“Not taken a summer class. You need the break after the intensity of the first year.”
“Not really. I probably would have gotten involved with student government or something.”
“I would not have been so nervous before that first exam. The nerves were completely shot by the time the proctor called the start of the exam. As a result, I missed some questions because I failed to read the directions properly. I also did not take to heart the IRAC method – or I just did not understand it. By my second year, I really felt like I knew how to answer a law exam question.”
9. What are the students really like?
“I’d say the vast majority are fun, normal people. Then there are small few who are complete morons. Those are the people who tend to end up in my classes. They’re the ones who make idiotic comments and then wonder why they fail. Prior to law school I would have hated to think these people would be in my classes. Now that I’m here, I think they’re a blessing in disguise because they help the curve.”
“Honest, respectable, ambitious, and supportive. Other than the occasional cocky student, I haven’t met one I didn’t like.”
“Good people by and large. Get some typical law school types. Gunners and the ‘when i worked at…’ namedroppers. But students are easy to get along with. If you want a study group, it’s easy to find friends to start one. If you don’t, it’s just as easy to find friends who can still help with studying and the like. There are also almost-weekly happy hours organized by various student groups.”
“See question 3 and 5.”