Also: Pre-Law Students Are Eager to Run, but Cautious
about Expressing Political Beliefs in Law School Application
Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)
New York, NY (February 22, 2017) – Fresh off an historic presidential election that has fueled increased political activism on both sides of the aisle, a new Kaplan Test Prep survey shows a jump in the percentage of pre-law students interested in politics*. Over half (53%) of the over 500 students surveyed say they would consider running for political office, up from 38% in 2012, the last time Kaplan surveyed on this topic. This 53% nearly ties the all-time high of 54% who said they would consider running for office when Kaplan first surveyed students shortly after President Obama was elected in 2008.
Approximately 35 percent of all members of Congress (both in the House of Representatives and Senate) are lawyers, the largest identified profession in the current Congress, though markedly down from a post-World War II high of 59% in 1965. Additionally, about half of all current U.S. governors graduated law school.
Despite many pre-law students’ passion for politics, many are apprehensive about putting their beliefs into words in the admissions process. When asked, “In general, do you think it’s better for applicants to avoid discussing their political beliefs in their law school application personal statement?”, nearly half (46%) say yes; 16% say no; 29% say it depends; and the remaining 10% don’t know.
But a separate Kaplan survey of law schools finds that admissions officers don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea for applicants to discuss their political beliefs**. When asked the same question, 42% disagreed with the statement “it would be better for applicants to not discuss their political beliefs in their personal statement.” Of the remaining respondents, 28% agreed that politics should be avoided in law school application personal statements; 26% say it depends; and 4% don’t know.
“Law school has long been a bullpen of aspiring politicians, and we think the recent election showed many pre-law students of all political persuasions how important it is stay involved and stand up for what you believe,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “When it comes to expressing political beliefs in your law school personal statement, we advise applicants to do it only when you can do a good job of weaving together your personal narrative and career goals. For instance, if you want to go into public interest law, by all means, talk about your college internship in the governor’s office or your canvassing job for an advocacy group. But just to spout your political opinions with no larger goal may alienate admissions officers who don’t agree with you or who think you didn’t use your personal statement wisely. It can show poor judgement.”
For a short video illustrating the survey’s findings, click here.
* Kaplan Test Prep e-surveyed 514 of its LSAT® students between December 2016 and February 2017.
** For the 2016 Kaplan Test Prep survey, 98 of the 205 American Bar Association-accredited law schools were polled by telephone between August and September 2016. Included among the 98 are 28 of the top 50 law schools, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.
LSAT® is a registered trademark of the Law School Admission Council, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product.
About Kaplan Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.
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