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Class of 2024 boasts biggest median GPA jump in country

by Sarah Bello,

Students in class

Willamette University prides itself in being unafraid to go first, and Willamette Law is no different.

Amid surging applications and high LSAT scores, its first-year Class of 2024, who began their law school journey in August 2021, boasted the highest median GPA increase in the country, going from 3.07 in 2020 to 3.32 the following year. The Class of 2024 also raised the school’s median LSAT score by two points, from 152 to 154. 

The statistics are significant, says Leah Straley, assistant dean of admissions. Generally, she says, the GPA is difficult to move from year to year. In the past, admissions staff focused more on LSAT scores, but for the 2021 cycle, they paid special attention to GPAs, making it a goal to increase from the year before.

“A higher GPA indicates that this student did well in their undergraduate studies,” Straley explains. “We look closely at it because we’re admitting them to another academic program, and it can be a strong indicator of how well they’ll do in law school.”

Many other schools saw meaningful hikes, with just four out of 196 schools reporting a drop in median LSATs and 25 with lower median GPAs than the year prior.

According to an October 2021 Reuters story, in the Fall of 2021, applications increased nationwide 13%, the biggest jump since 2002. Willamette Law also saw an increase, but its 17.5% increase significantly outpaced the national average. Straley says things like the College of Law’s innovative admission programming, including acceptance of the GRE and creation of a number of direct admission programs likely played a part, inspiring students to apply for law school. The 1L class itself grew in size by 10.43%, adding 12 students to the 2020 class size of 115 students. 

For the class arriving in the Fall of 2022, Straley says the admissions team is working diligently to repeat those numbers while both increasing applications and eliminating conditional scholarships.

“We’ve made a number of changes to our admissions processes, including striving to offer a more seamless and transparent enrollment journey,” she says. “It’s exciting to see the growth in interest from prospective students in response to those changes.”

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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