2. Size: Few high school seniors will be certain about their professional careers and ready to pursue them, experts say. Many school leaders don't plan for these programs to be large.
"On average, we probably enroll one student every other year through our program," Douglas Ray, dean of the law school at St. Thomas University, said via email.
At University of Denver, Davis anticipates only a handful of students will enter its new program.
Christensen's program at University of Kansas has about 15 students. Seeing his program peers may not always come easy. During his freshman year, there are less coordinated meeting times for the group.
"It's only coincidence if we have classes with one another," he says.
3. Program structure: Some schools have a special curriculum for students forgoing the traditional four-year undergraduate experience to go to law school early; others permit students to have more choice in which classes they take leading up to law school.
"We have several law school-sponsored functions during the undergraduate portion of the degree," says Mulligan of University of Kansas. "Freshmen, for example, we take them to hear arguments with the Kansas Supreme Court."
Students can also spend a day at a private firm and the district attorney's office to see different types of legal practice, he says. Sophomores will volunteer in legal settings and third-year students will take classes specially designed for them and taught by law faculty.
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"There are going to be opportunities to review different areas of their first-year curriculum, to practice brief writing and to practice oral arguments," says Mulligan.
At Denver, students aren't guided through a special curriculum. They are encouraged to meet with their academic advisers to make sure they are on track for completing all required undergraduate course work by the end of junior year.
Schools typically cater to incoming freshmen for the dual-degree option, but some – such as University of Denver and Suffolk University – allow students to join the program after they've started college. Experts note that matriculating can be difficult, though.
"Students who are in the middle of their sophomore year or they're in their junior year, they may not have enough time to complete all of their required classes prior to the end of their junior year," Davis says. "That's really the biggest challenge for those students."
Time is often hard to manage for all students, experts say, but they agree with Christensen about the financial value of these programs.
"This is a wonderful way to reduce the cost of getting a professional education," says Ray. "You only admit students that you feel have a high probability of success."
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