Among the peculiar statistics from our pandemic environment is the surge in applications to law schools (up 32% year over year) and medical schools (up 18%). This in a year when college freshman enrollment overall is down 13%, and community college freshman enrollment is off by 19%.
What’s up? The higher interest in becoming a doctor can be explained by a perceived surge in the need for medical professionals. The dean of the college of medicine at the University of Houston reports that the pandemic has made students aware of the urgent needs for health care in the U.S. But there is another possible reason: this year’s medical school requirements are less strict than in years past. Stanford University is one of many institutions that have waived requirements to take the Medical College Admission Test scores for 2021 applicants.
As to law schools, not only are more people applying, but they are also submitting applications at more schools than in the past. Anecdotally, officials at the Law School Admission council say that many candidates have been motivated by the career of the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who cite racism, economic inequality, political polarization and climate change as issues where they want to make a difference. A career in law would allow them to challenge the unhealthy status quo.
In both fields, observers cite the example of how, after 9/11, there was a surge in young people who were motivated to serve the country militarily. The suggestion is that calendar 2020 is a traumatic event in our nation’s history that Generation Z would like to rectify. But another explanation for the increase in interest in these professions is that more people may be looking for more job security at a time of high unemployment—especially among younger Americans.
This article was written by an independent writer for Brewster Financial Planning LLC and is not intended as individualized legal or investment advice.