Top Students Can Bypass LSAT
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 01:11
For 25 years, the Georgetown University Law Center’s early assurance program has admitted a select number of Georgetown undergraduates without requiring them to complete the LSAT.
For many prospective undergrads aspiring to careers as hotshot lawyers or august judges, the program is among the most appealing features of a Georgetown undergraduate education. But it can also be the most elusive.
Applicants are required to submit only a transcript with five semesters of grades along with two letters of recommendation, but they must also boast an undergraduate GPA of 3.8 or higher.
Georgetown Law Dean of Admissions Andy Cornblatt said that although all law schools have seen a decline in applicants in recent years, the program has remained competitive.
“It’s pretty steady,” he said. “We haven’t seen a significant drop.”
According to the Law Center’s website, 21 of the 52 Georgetown applicants for the class entering in fall 2013, or 40 percent, were admitted in that cycle. That reflects a more competitive pool than in the 2012 cycle, when 50 percent of applicants were accepted, but a less competitive pool than in 2011, from which only 26 percent were admitted. The accepted pool has had an average GPA of at least 3.9 since the 2008 cycle, with the figure peaking at 3.93 for the class entering in 2009.
“It’s a very difficult program to get admitted to,” Cornblatt said. “Many students don’t get in through early assurance but are admitted through the regular process.”
Laura Brayton (MSB ’13) applied to the early assurance program last winter but was ultimately accepted as a regular decision applicant this fall. Nonetheless, she expressed enthusiasm about the program.
“I think it’s a great program for students to have the opportunity to get into law school in the spring semester of their junior year,” she said. “It provides a stress relief and makes applying to other schools for regular decision easier, as you are already guaranteed to go to a top 14 law school and have a personal statement already written.”
Cornblatt said that the purpose of the program, which is non-binding, is to allow top students to make the most of their senior years by taking less conventional course loads. Cornblatt said he considers the program, which is unusual among law schools, a success.
“It’s helped us to attract and keep some of the very best students from our terrific undergrad school,” he said. “For many top students … it makes it that much easier to say yes back to us. It allows us to keep many of our stars in the Hoya family.”
Though such early assurance programs are common among medical schools throughout the country, Georgetown’s program is unique among law schools. According to The Wall Street Journal, another university to offer early assurance to a select pool of its undergrads is the University of Michigan.
Monica Perrigino (COL ’12), who was admitted to the early assurance program but ultimately chose to attend the New York University School of Law, had a generally positive opinion of the program.
“Having only thought of law school for the first time the prior September, it was pretty surreal to know that I secured a spot in a school without even starting senior year and without having begun studying for the LSAT,” Perrigino said. “There is also a nice calming feeling as you study for the LSAT and know that, should you totally bomb it, you can still go to a great school.”
However, Perrigino said she feared that students admitted under early assurance would have difficulty gaining the respect of their peers because they had not completed the LSAT.
“I’m not sure how fellow law students would look at you if they knew about your ‘special’ admission process. I have explained it to some friends [at NYU], and they are truly baffled at the idea of attending … one of the best law schools in the country without even having touched an LSAT question,” she said. “That does not at all mean you did not earn your spot there or you got in through some sketchy backdoor entrance, but a lot of people will see it that way, and that’s something that one should prepare for.”
Perrigino also cited frustration at the Law Center’s requirement that accepted applicants make a sizeable deposit before hearing from other schools.
“If I had known what my fate would be elsewhere, it would have been nice to avoid essentially wasting so much money, but of course I wanted to know that there was still a place for me [at the Law Center], so I made the payment even though I ultimately ended up at a different school,” she said.
The Law Center begins accepting applications for the early assurance program Feb. 1 and the deadline for submissions is April 10 for the fall semester.