Kaplan Survey: Majority of Law Schools Predict Their Entering 2020 Class Sizes Will be the Same Size as Last Year, Despite the COVID-19 Crisis

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190

Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanLSATPrep

New York, NY (July 28, 2020) — Despite COVID-19’s role as the ultimate disruptor across the entire U.S. education sector, a new Kaplan survey of law schools nationwide finds stability on the admissions landscape*. More than half (52 percent) of admissions officers surveyed say they believe their entering class size for fall 2020 will be about the same as their fall 2019 entering class size; 26 percent say it will be larger; and 22 percent say it will be smaller.

This view comes after there was initial unease among law schools about the upcoming academic year, with several administrations of the LSAT® being cancelled for  health reasons. This was followed by the news that an at-home version of the LSAT would take its place temporarily, which allows students whose tests were cancelled to stick with their application plans. As recently as June, law school applications were down 2.5 percent from the same time last year, but more recent data shows applications up nearly 1 percent.

But a small increase in applications, the introduction of LSAT-Flex and the struggling economy aren’t the only factors that have convinced law schools that they will see a solid class size for 2020, the survey suggests. Two thirds (67 percent) of survey respondents say they have made their admissions requirements more flexible, which could entice fence-sitters. According to the admissions officers who answered the survey, this includes everything from extending application deadlines, to relaxing deposit requirements, to allowing prospective students to apply using their unofficial LSAT scores. But one area where law schools remain rigid, according to the survey: the standardized test requirement. All but one school surveyed say they are unlikely to allow applicants to waive submitting LSAT or GRE® scores.

The survey also finds that the upcoming 2020-2021 application cycle may be among the most competitive in years: many seats for next year may already be filled before new applicants even submit their paperwork because of deferments. But should they defer? Many admissions officers advise against it, with one saying, “As the American economy is placed on hold for an indeterminate amount of time, now is the best time to begin your legal education so that when the economy returns, you’ll be ready to dive in…While this will not be the typical law school experience, it will not be a substandard one.” In addition to competition for seats, signs point to fewer scholarships due to declining revenues for some schools. Another admissions officer shared, “I would counsel prospective students to consider what they would be doing instead of enrolling in law school. If they do not have alternative plans that would allow them to fill their time productively, they might want to proceed with their law school enrollment. I also believe competition will be stiffer next year and budgets will decrease, so applicants can expect admissions rates and scholarship offers to decrease.”

“While this has arguably been the most unusual law school admissions cycle in decades, the stability, in terms of just the numbers, is remarkable. If you look at an application increase of just under 1 percent, the casual observer might think that things were business as usual, but behind the scenes there has been a lot going on to ensure a seamless process during unpredictable times, from the rollout of the first at-home version of the LSAT to extended application deadlines. This has made a stressful situation for prospective students more manageable,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of legal programs, Kaplan. “If you are an accepted applicant still deliberating about what to do, our advice is to consider the long term. While the COVID-19 crisis is likely to continue for at least the rest of the year, your future legal career is something that will last for many decades. Also listen to what admissions officers are telling us. Next cycle might be more competitive and budget shortfalls may make financial aid less available. Overall, this may be a more advantageous year to enroll.”

For more information about the Kaplan survey, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 917.822.8190.

*Based on the results of a Kaplan e-survey conducted between June 2020 and July 2020 of 94 American Bar Association-accredited law schools. Among the 94 law schools surveyed are 16 of the top 25, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

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About Kaplan

Kaplan provides individuals, universities, and businesses a broad array of educational services, including higher and professional education, test preparation, language training, corporate and leadership training, and student recruitment, online enablement and other university support services. With operations in nearly 30 countries, Kaplan serves nearly 1.1 million students each year and has partnerships with 2,000-plus universities, colleges, and schools/school districts, and more than 4,000 businesses globally. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). For more information, please visit www.kaplan.com.

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