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undertheletter

Class Sizes?

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This isn't really a comparison between specific schools, but I was looking through class profiles and wondering how important class sizes are in law school. In undergrad, classes could be anywhere between 15 to 1500 students and so the advantages and disadvantages on either end of the range were obvious. However, I'm not sure how this applies in law school. Is the style of teaching such that class size becomes relevant at all? 

Most schools seem to admit around 175-200 students while others like Osgoode and Ottawa are closer to 250+. Are the actual class sizes approximately the same in spite of the number of admitted students?  Is this something that is worth factoring into a decision?

Any answers are appreciated!

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1 hour ago, undertheletter said:

This isn't really a comparison between specific schools, but I was looking through class profiles and wondering how important class sizes are in law school. In undergrad, classes could be anywhere between 15 to 1500 students and so the advantages and disadvantages on either end of the range were obvious. However, I'm not sure how this applies in law school. Is the style of teaching such that class size becomes relevant at all? 

Most schools seem to admit around 175-200 students while others like Osgoode and Ottawa are closer to 250+. Are the actual class sizes approximately the same in spite of the number of admitted students?  Is this something that is worth factoring into a decision?

Any answers are appreciated!

I am a 1L at uOttawa law. uOttawa law admits 280 students for its incoming class now. 1Ls are divided into 15 small group classes. Each small group consists of approximately 18-25 students. 3 or 4 small group students take some classes together. In this case, larger group classes comprise 70 students.

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I do think it's worth taking into consideration; the problem is it might take a lot of work to actually get all the info... this is because some schools break down the cohort in different ways than others.

For instance, I can say that UVic doesn't do anything like what @ArchivesandMuseums describes at Ottawa. Different classes break the 1L class into different size sections, but your smaller sections don't stay stable between courses. So some classes only have about 25 or 40 people in them, but you won't have the same group of 25 or 40 in all those classes. Other classes have up to 60 or 75 in 1L.From what I can see in the upper-year timetable, those courses are capped at between 20 and 50 students, depending on the class.

Layered on top of that is the fact that this year, with Covid, a lot of arrangements have changed anyway. Since class space hasn't been an issue, several courses have seen the profs "team teach", so all the sections will be in the same zoom room at times, and then other times maybe not.

Anyway, I know you asked a general question and I'm giving you unnecessarily granular info from a specific school you didn't ask about... my point is just that, unfortunately, your question is not super easy to answer. ;) I would recommend looking to see as much detailed info you can find, for the specific schools that interest you, regarding how class sizes are divided. I think that, in general, it won't correspond to the size of the overall cohort, but beyond that it's hard to say.

-GM

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Osgoode breaks their incoming 1L class into 4 Sections of ~70 students. You stay with your section for all of 1L, with certain "small group" segments of 1L courses broken further out of the sections. You also get a perspective option (seminar) in Winter 1L, which will be a mix of students from all sections.  I had a great experience in my 1L section, and most of my fellow 1L's seemed to feel the same; it gives 1L's a bit of a 'comfort zone' in an otherwise big school.  Yet, by 2L there is very little segregation by section, and people seem to have no problem finding friend groups with common interests, and you will tend to come across the same people regularly for this reason. It really is more like an adult version of high school than undergrad.

The only time Osgoode felt like a "big" school is when they have to herd all of 1L into the academic "success" sessions (which were an absolute waste of time).

For upper year lectures, enrollment varies between ~30 and 80 students.  80 students in a lecture hall was tight, but the better professors were able to keep discussions from becoming too tangential, and reliably deliver course content at very reasonable rates (Dufraimont was really good at this). Seminars can be as little as 8 or 9 students, up to ~25.

All of this is subject to the current online learning environment, which I really have little input on.

I will say, genearlly speaking, I never felt as though my presence was 'diluted' by the larger student body. People that want to stand out will stand out among the student body, you will develop strong connections with other students, and your professors will get to know you very personally. However, all of this is contingent on the student putting the time and effort in.

 

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Thanks for all the replies! I guess I didn't realize how varied the structure of classes are in each school, so I'll definitely do some specific research, but the above info is very helpful to me nonetheless.

Edited by undertheletter

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UofT has small groups of ~25 people who you have every class with. This semester, we have 2 classes with our small groups only, and 2 classes with one other small group (so about 50 people). I think it's different during a regular year though.

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TRU admits roughly 110 students per year (+/- 5) and splits the 1L class into 2 cohorts of ~55 students each. You're with the same cohort from September - April except for some special sessions where both sections are combined for a day in the largest lecture hall. You also write all your exams together, not separated by cohort.

1L classes are all in classrooms like this one:

Lecture48809.jpg

My undergrad program started out in lecture halls of 500+ and ended in classes of 10-15 students. I was pretty comfortable in a classroom of ~55 students. By the time you get to 3L you end up knowing everyone in your year.

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UBC admits roughly 200 students, divided into 4 "small groups" of roughly 50 people for 1L. Those 50 people take all their classes together. You don't really meet or interact with those outside of your small group unless you participate in ECs or spend time in the common spaces. I don't perceive class size to have much effect or academic performance tbh.

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In upper year classes at UBC I think they range from 15 to 75 per class (that I've seen), depending on whether it is a lecture-style or seminar course. I don't know if class size makes it harder or not to beat the curve, if that is what you're concerned about. It all really depends on who is in the class and your own grasp on the material. If you're in a class of 20 students with lots of high performing students, you might find it harder to break average unless you are also high performing. 

Edited by thebadwife

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At uwindsor, the 1L class is split into 3 sections of roughly 55-60 students. Students complete most of the classes with their section for the whole year. Then there are smaller classes (legal writing and access to justice), which typically have 25-30 students. 

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