Student engagement survey: 90% of participants believe Cal Western was the right choice

By Sara Gold, Editor-in-Chief

Neils Schaumann, president and dean of California Western School of Law, spoke to students and faculty Jan. 25 to discuss Cal Western’s results from the most recent Law Student Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE).

A longitudinal study administered by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research since 2004, the LSSSE involves nearly 200 law schools across the United States, Canada, and Australia. Schools opt to participate in this study evaluating how well law schools advance their goals of promoting students’ education, enrichment, wellbeing, and career opportunities.

In 2017, Cal Western was one of 77 participating law schools, and 55% of Cal Western students responded to the survey. Dean Schaumann presented the data by comparing Cal Western’s results to those of two different comparison groups:

1.    Other California law schools            2. Other independent law schools

Chapman University                                                  John Marshall (Chicago)

Loyola Law School (Los Angeles)                             South Texas

Santa Clara University                                               Southwestern

Southwestern                                                              Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson                                                        University of California Hastings

University of California Hastings                              Western State

Western State

Cal Western shined across a wide gamut of areas, from career counseling and financial planning to pro bono legal work and student-faculty interactions.

  • Roughly 90% of Cal Western participants said that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the school’s career counseling, compared to results ranging from 60-75% for the two comparison groups. Cal Western 3Ls rated job search support approximately twice as high as 3Ls at the other law schools.
  • Roughly 70% of Cal Western participants said that they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with financial aid advising, compared to 55-65% of the comparison group respondents.
  • Over 80% of Cal Western participants said that the school provides academic support “quite a bit” or “very much,” compared to 65-70% of the comparison group respondents.
  • About 30-40% of the comparison group respondents said that their law school “very much” helped them with their public speaking and legal research skills. Roughly 40% of Cal Western participants said the school “very much” aided with public speaking, and 50% said the same for legal research skills.
  • About 90% of Cal Western participants said that if they could start over again, they would “probably” or “definitely” still choose Cal Western, compared to about 75% of the comparison group respondents.

The data also revealed some areas for potential improvement. Notably, less than 30% of 1Ls reported socializing and relaxing for more than five hours weekly, compared to 44-47% of comparison group respondents. Only 14% of 2Ls and 17% of 3Ls reported being law journal members, compared to 27-37% of 2Ls and 3Ls at the other law schools.

Dean Schaumann also presented data demonstrating Cal Western’s improvements based on the school’s 2013, 2015, and 2017 LSSSE results. The data showed that in 2017, more students reported asking questions in class “often” or “very often” than in 2013. In addition, the percentage of students reporting positive relationships with peers, administrators, and faculty increased was higher in 2017 than in 2013. Ninety percent of Cal Western participants in 2017 said they would choose Cal Western again, a significant increase from 75% in 2013 and 2015.

“While Cal Western has struggled at times with the outside world’s perception of the law school, from the students’ point of view, the school is excellent and getting better all the time,” said Dean Schaumann.

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