Well, we have just reached LSAC's 92% applicant point for this application cycle, so I thought it was time to take a look at where trends have gone thus far.
Earlier this cycle, it appeared that applications were were clocking in about 5 times the amount of applicants, which was a significant departure from prior years. Over time however, that curve began to straighten and fall in at 6.5 applications per applicant. So far, so normal, although one can see that the trend was off to a slow start before "catching up" for 2016.
As LSAC only presents the most recent three years of data along with a highly-compressed axis, it is easy to forget overall trends and think things are largely unchanged for the last several years. Included below are applicant-over-time trends for 2012, 2014, and this current cycle. Readers of this blog may recall that my earlier data is based on interpolation of large blow-up charts while later data is taken from LSACs posts, which is why the curves for 2012 an 2014 are super-smooth while 2016 looks all googly-moogly by comparison. Interestingly, 4th-order polynomials seem to model these curves exceptionally well, although I attach no physical significance to the model other than "it works." But even these three curves demonstrate a significant downward trend in applicants, and 2016 is struggling to rise from all-time lows.
Many have mentioned that applicants seem to have delayed applying until later and later into the application cycle, but I don't know that I have seen any particular analysis on that point. Blowing the dust off the old college calculus textbook, however, we see that the derivatives of these curves reveal a lengthening of the application cycle:
In 2012 and 2014, the application rate maxed-out at about two months into the cycle. Where 2012 topped out at about 3,400 applicants/week, 2014 barely crested 2,500 applicants/week at the same time in the cycle. In 2016 however, not only was the maximum rate still lower, it occurred some six weeks later by comparison.
All of this suggests that while LSAC is proud of their 1% increase in applications over last year, digging deeper demonstrates that potential students are still hearing the message and thinking twice about taking the plunge. The overall enthusiasm for law school is anemic at best, and hopefully will continue to be so as we continue to do our part in showing the scam for what it is. Congratulations, everyone, and let's keep the pressure on.