3 out of 5 Stars
The level of difficulty varies from professor to professor. Some are more practice oriented and less theory and visa versa. I don't feel any one of them was totally theory and all regularly use real life application examples, and most use Texas specific examples. Like any school, the quality of professors varies with older ones who should retire and make room for younger, more enthusiastic profs and others who I would have enjoyed having every single semester.Level
The classes are all of very high quality. They're extremely practical, using theory only as a teaching device. The Socratic method, while initially daunting produces good results in STCL students. We have advisers who advise a group of less than 10 students. Though class sizes are somewhat large, I also came from a undergraduate school where 30 was a large class. The atmosphere is very community-oriented, and usually competitive horror stories (like taking essential books etc.) would never be tolerated. Grading is very tough, and no one will accuse STCL of grade inflation. You work, you make the grade, there are no falsely inflated GPAs here. Professor Gerald Treece, a great legal personality in Houston, teaches 1L courses as well as the nationally 3rd-ranked advocacy programs and is a dynamic and engaging educator, even the newer professors fit right in.Quality of Life
Cost of living is cheap. Campus, though not fancy, is very functional. We have excellent facility, and a library that is superior to all others in the city. Computer labs are abundant, and the moot courtroom is wonderfully appointed. The dining and neighborhood were excellent. It is also very safe.Admissions
I spoke with a admissions counselor both when he came to my school as well as during a campus visit before I made my final decision. Their LSDAS system was very simple, much easier than others, such as Texas Tech. I received some financial aid, and the raise in tuition for my 2L year was much lower than what I experienced in undergraduate and was in response to the current recession.Level
The professors are engaging and many are dynamic. They expect diligence but provide a thorough, demanding and rewarding legal education. The staff work very hard to provide networking and prospective employment contacts. The advocacy program is first-rate and recognized at #3 in the nation. The school is located in downtown Houston, Texas and provides access to exciting downtown life as well as an impressive array of employment opportunties. Every major legal employer is located here. I've been told by several employers that the caliber of the graduates is first-rate, and I feel very fortunate to be getting my JD from this institution.Quality of Life
The faculty and staff are amazing, but the facilties (excepting the Courtroom) are pretty dismal. The library is okay. I realize it cannot compare to the library at UT-Austin, and is certainly better than that which is provided at St. Mary's in San Antonio. However, the copiers and printers are almost always broken, or jam. It is very frustrating. The staplers provided for the students are usually lacking staples, and most of the tools just don't work or don't work well. It doesn't seem to be anybody's job to ensure these items are working. I've been in the computer lab and printed documents, only to find toner was out and the documents unreadable. I've also been working and discovered no one working and the printers are out of paper. When student workers are on duty, they are either unwilling or unable to provide any assistance. It introduces unnecessary stress into an already very stressful experience. I've learned to carry my own stapler, paper cbut there is little answer for when the printers/copiers don't work. Also, though the technology department touts that you can send print jobs directly from your laptop, I've never gotten that to work. Student workers, as well as technology department staff members have worked on it. It will print a test job, but when I attempt to send one of my own documents, I receive a spooler failure or it simply never shows up at the release station. I've given up on that 'feature.'
Additionally, the school is not open 24 hours. We are currently less than two weeks from our first exam, and the library may have just extended hours to 2a.m., though I haven't confirmed this. (They were closing at regular hours last week, which is 10p.m.) This causes me hardship because I do not have any options where I live. I've had to scope out alternate locations which remain open, and found one. (Starbucks at Post Oak seems to be the only such location!)
Additionally, though the Financial Aid staff are wonderful, the school doesn't have the capability to direct deposit disbursements. My bank has only one location in San Antonio and though it has an application where I can deposit online (with use of a local scanner, which is also not available at STCL computer lab), they don't accept deposits larger than $2500 with that application. I have to mail those checks and am delayed another week before I have access to those funds.
The courtroom, however, along with the advocacy program is first-rate. I can walk in there, breathe deeply and remember why I am putting myself through all this misery! :) And, I love downtown Houston near our school. There are some great places to eat, drink, and shop. It's great!Level
Quality of classes is very good. The professors strike a great balance between theory and practical study. The Socratic method is alive and well. The curve is lower than most schools. The faculty is excellent and the study abroad programs are plentiful and worthwhile.Quality of Life
Library is great. Advocacy Program is great. Food is bad.Admissions
Teachers do an excellent job incorporating the Socratic Method. Class sections are small enough that you can easily get to know other students in your section. Classes are highly competitive.Level
Socratic method is heavily used. Student recitation is stressed. First year student recitation is stressful, but not too difficult to do. Workload is easily manageable for most. Legal Reading and Writing (LRW) courses are mandatory. Faculty is outstanding. Study abroad opportunities abound. Class size is approx 90 students for first-year classes, 60 for 2L and 3L courses. Advocacy is among the best in the nation.Admissions
Take LSAT, write personal statement, fill out application.Level
The academics are challenging. The school offers a variety of programs, but the focus is definitely on the advocacy program. Most students here are part of it in some capacity. It takes some searching to find the other programs. There are good opportunities for study abroad as well as a transactional law certification program. I have enjoyed most of the professors I have had up to this point.Admissions
From what I could tell it was mostly based on LSAT and undergrad GPA.Level
First year courses are almost all taught with the Socratic method and are mostly random recitation--forcing you to read and be ready for class, which is a good thing and establishes good habits. After that you get a mix of classes done with Socratic method and assigned recitation or purely voluntary recitation. The difficulty of the exams stays consistent across the years, most classes are curved, and the skills classes are time consuming, challenging, but very valuable.Level
STCL could do a better job at using the Socratic method, however, I am basing that off of NO prior experience with the method. I would say that everything else is good in terms of class size, etc.
The one area that STCL could really improve is in the area of Academic Advising. I am not saying that they are "bad" in that area, but it is an area that they could improve in (despite the fact that they currently do a decent job at it). If nothing else, they try very hard to get the information to the students, but it would be nice if we had a specific counselor for academic advising.Quality of Life
You can not live on the campus of STCL.
As for the facility itself, it is good and bad.
The library facilities are fairly decent. I would give them a 7 or 8 out of 10.
The rest of the school is not bad either. I would give it an overall score of 5 to 6 out of 10.Admissions
I get the impression that my school is fairly selective. South Texas College of Law is not the "top" school (of 9) in Texas, so there are typically a lot of applications that trickle down to South Texas' application process. Therefore, STCL has to be somewhat selective as they do tend to get a lot more applications than they have room for.
So, from that point of view, I would say STCL is selective in that way. For example, they probably get a lot of applications with more or less the same LSAT and GPA. So, they are forced to look at other factors in order to make their decisions.
However, as far as the process being unique. I would say the process for applying to STCL was no different than applying to any of the other nine schools in Texas. I applied (or looked into) all nine Texas schools, and they were all fairly identical (in terms of application process).
As far as the other schools I applied too, I got the impression that the only (or first) thing they looked at (on any given application) was the LSAT score. It was almost as if that was all they looked at. However, I am sure the LSAT score is a high priority for STCL as well.
The only school that gave me any "trouble" during the application process was SMU (or Southern Methodist in Dallas). I sent them my application and the fee (which I believe was $75). However, I never heard any word (one way or the other) from SMU. So, I called there admissions office to inquire about my application, but I was told that they couldnt give me any info over the phone. So, I spent $75 on SMU....for nothing!
The classes are challenging and fast-paced. I found most required classes to be very focused on theory and the elective courses to have a good mix of theory and practical study. All classes are conducted using the Socratic Method, and students are randomly selected to recite in all required classes. The registrar's office is always open to all students for academic advising. Each required course has about 80 students, and each elective course will have anywhere from a few students to 80. Several unique academic programs are offered. Research opportunities are available. Grading is based on a strict C- curve, which causes problems for less academically minded students. All professors are highly qualified and top practitioners in their respective fields. Several study abroad opportunities are available. The workload is particularly demanding for full-time 1Ls, which consists of five mandatory courses totaling 15 credit hours each semester.Quality of Life
Cost of living is very competitive. The campus consists of a large building in the revitalized area of downtown Houston. The facilities are very clean and modern. The six-floor library has been totally remodeled within the last ten years and is very bright, spacious, and study friendly with floor to ceiling windows. The school has several computer labs, and wireless internet is available throughout. Although located in downtown Houston, I always feel very safe. The entryway and other areas of the school are monitored by security guards and Houston Police Department. Keeping students safe is one of STCL's top priorities, and I've never had any issues with safety or crime. The school provides free coffee and stress relieving massages during finals week.Admissions
STCL's admission process is typical of most other law schools. STCL considers the applicant's undergraduate GPA, LSAT score, letters of recommendation, and personal statement. Most applicants are from Texas and the South-West. However, the school is particularly interested in attracting students from all over.Level