Apps Up: The economy’s down, but applications to HLSand law schools around the country have risen


Nationally, the Law School Admissions Council reported that 38,045 people took the December LSAT, a 26.4 percent increase over the previous year.

Although the national economy has slumped, Harvard Law School and its competitors have seen a significant increase in the number of applications received. Dean of Admissions Joyce Curll told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that applications were up 25 percent over the previous year. The rise in applications to the Law School reflects a national trend as recent graduates and displaced workers see graduate school as a way of riding out the recession.

Nationally, other law schools have seen similar jumps in applications. According to The New York Times, Yale Law School has seen a 57 percent increase so far. Nationally, the Law School Admissions Council reported that 38,045 people took the December LSAT, a 26.4 percent increase over the previous year.

The growth in applications is not limited to law schools. Prospective students have been sending in more applications to business, journalism and education schools. The number of applicants taking the GRE in the fall was up 10 percent from the previous year and almost 19 percent for the GMAT. This trend, however, has not extended to medical schools. According to the Association of American Medical College, the number of applicants to medical schools is down 6 percent this year.

While the additional applicants may be swamping admissions offices, they’re also creating a boon for test preparation companies. Jaime Bederman, National Director of Marketing for the Princeton Review, told CNNFinancial Network [CNNfn] that the growth in preparation for tests like the LSAT and GMAT has been dramatic.

“Throughout the year we’ve seen about 20 percent growth over last year, and we’ve even found that since September 11th, that growth has doubled. And in some weeks, we’ve seen growth of 100 percent over the last year,” he said.

Most admissions directors say that the increase in applications is directly related to the sagging economy. As it becomes more difficult to get good jobs, applicants are drawn to grad school as a way to sit out the recession and build their earning potential.

“Some are young people who can’t get jobs out of college,” Dean Curll told the Post-Gazette. “Others have worked for a while and were either laid off or figured that this was a good time to advance their careers.”

The Princeton Review’s Bederman agreed. He told CNNfn: “A few years ago, someone in college, when they were a junior or a senior, might not have thought about continuing their education with a law degree or a business degree, just because when they graduate they saw these great salaries. So why give up another three or four years when I can make the money now? Now they’re finding that those offers aren’t necessarily there, so they’re going to consider more seriously going to law school.”

The increase in applications should mean that this will be a particularly difficult year to get into law school. The Post-Gazette reported that nationally there will be around 100,000 applicants for 42,500 slots at the nation’s ABA law schools.

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