September 10, 2001

More Students Apply to Law Schools, Pay for LSAT Course

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With the recent changes in the economy and the growing interest in higher education, more students are applying to law schools and using supplementary services to do well on entrance exams.

According to the Law School Admission Council, students are applying to American Bar Association-approved law schools in record numbers. The last increase of comparable applicants was encountered in 1991. According to preliminary numbers, approximately 78,724 students applied to one of many law schools for the fall 2001 term.

Debbie Charish ’04 agrees with the logic that students will follow professional degrees if they perceive less of a demand in the financial services sector.

“People will always need help with legal problems regardless of whether the economy is good or bad,” she said. “Business jobs are more dependent on the state of the economy, which is why people pursuing business as a career would be more concerned with how the economy’s doing.”

In addition, Charish noted, many jobs are requiring candidates to go beyond a bachelor’s degree.

“A lot of jobs are looking for people with a higher degree now and you can get a higher salary if you have a more advanced degree, which would motivate people towards pursuing one,” she said.

According to a Cornell law professor, the portrayal of professionals on television shows such as “Ally McBeal” and “Law and Order” may also influence students’ career choices.

“They [the shows] clearly influence students,” said Kevin Clermont, the James and Mark Flanagan Professor of Law. “‘L.A. Law’ had a variable influence in the eighties because it looked good. ‘The Practice’ is a rather unattractive portrayal — it doesn’t look good.”

In order to prepare for entrance exams such as the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), students are flocking to test-preparation services to improve their scores. Kaplan, Inc., one of these local services, has seen greater popularity with their products.

“Over the past four years, we’ve had to add at least one [extra] class for each test course [for each year],” said Nataly Wolga, a coordinator with the Collegetown office of Kaplan, Inc. “There are 30 students in a class.”

Kaplan offers test-preparation resources for graduate, law and medical school entrance exams, along with other courses for students taking the SATs or Advanced Placement classes. Students have the choice of taking classes at the nearest Kaplan facility, taking classes online, or studying with private tutors.

“[Many of] our students improve their scores by taking the [preparatory] tests,” Wolga said.

“That’s unfortunate [that the classes help], but they do,” Clermont said. “My college roommate taught one of those classes and said that anyone who took the LSAT without one was crazy. But I did!”

Yet, there is a concern of the possible benefits in comparison to the cost of the test preparation services. The classroom course for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the test for graduate school, costs $1049. The online courses for the (GRE) range from $29 to $499.

Archived article by Kelly Samuels