I guess I’ll start with the touchier subject. The biggest question I’d want to know is “are the students better?” Of course, I can do a lot of hemming and hawing about this, and most of it will be true. There are a lot of unknowns that make answering this difficult.
First, I have had very little experience with upper level classes at MIA. Therefore, I have little to judge by when it comes to classes like Enterprise Organizations (Business Administration in some other schools), or Secured Transactions (UCC-9 stuff). So, I don’t think I can gage anything by sitting in those classes. What I can tell you is this: Mich has a very liberal pass/fail option (called limited grade option). If you want to graduate with honors, you must have 60 graded credits, if you don’t care about honors, you need not. This means that many students do one of two things. 1) They get to the GPA they like and when they hit the 60 mark, they take everything they can P/F or 2) they don’t give a crud about GPA and take as many P/F right off the bat. Now, one might think this would create a poor class environment (lots of people not reading, playing minesweeper, etc.), however, the classes I am in have quite a bit of students who seem prepared everyday. Now, that isn’t to say that a fair amount are either missing or there in body only, but I would say the majority have read the material and can speak about it with pretty good insight. Of course, as with most classes, there is a strong core of people really interested in the class, and they tend to take most of the class time – not gunner-wise, but with questions, comments, and the such. Take that for what it is worth.
However, because I did not have Crim. Law in MIA, I am required to take it. Because it is a 1L class, I am in there with all 1Ls. I am the only non-1L. Now, these would be brand new, “green” 1Ls, but I picked the class (pure happenstance) filled with “summer starters”. So, these 1Ls have one semester of classes under their belts. I must say, I am quite impressed with the level of discourse and preparedness in the class. These “kids” seem to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. The professor (I plan to broach the subject of professors in the future if “some guy” doesn’t get too bored with my pontificating) is very good, and she hits many students each class with questions (as “Socratic” as it gets these days). I’ve yet to have a student blatantly pass, and I have very rarely have thought someone should have. I am also impressed with the depth that some (by no means all) of the students seem to have thought out the issues presented in the course.
I wasn’t sure what to think about my 1L classmates at first. Initially, I thought it might not be smarts as much as a level of striving not seen at more “relaxed” schools. However, I took the plunge and went out with a few one night for happy-hour. The people I spoke with were very friendly and very well spoken. Some of them seemed to have committed views on certain issues of law that they could back up with more than gut feelings. It was a very nice evening, and I left feeling like the caliber of student might, indeed be higher. However, I must say that my MIA contingent of law friends was very small. And, the few friends I did spend time talking (read: fighting) with, were in their own right quite bright. One of the closest friends I have in MIA is extremely level-headed, and very insightful. So, maybe I suffered from lack of exposure, and am not in any position to say who might or might not be better.Expectations
. The one ting I have noted is that the students here are aware of the school’s ranking, and understand that they will have opportunities to more easily end up places people at other schools will have to scratch and fight to get to. The students don’t seem to take this for granted, but rather, they seem to know that such opportunities come with an expectation of excellence and intelligence. Clerkships, top firms, government positions—these are great chances to make a mark in the world at an accelerated pace. Many understand the shot they have, and I think they are doing the best they can to capitalize on it. This creates a different environment from other schools (I am guessing). I honestly believe that most people will rise to the expectations placed on them. And, let’s face it, there are doors more easily opened for some schools than others. However, these students are not given these shots outright, just given access if they do the things they need to. When the opportunities are somewhat limited (in the aggregate) this weighs on the inertia of education.
So, better? No. Different. And, if you ask me, as long as it isn’t all encompassing, a little chip on your shoulder (maybe a tougher hill to climb) might make for a hader worker as the years roll on.