With more than 84,000 people applying to law school this year, GW students hoping to gain admission to the nation’s top schools are looking to private tutoring companies to get a leg up on the competition.
Though only 26 percent of last year’s law school applicants were under the age of 23, according to the Law School Admission Council, many D.C.-area LSAT tutoring companies said they see a strong representation of GW students in their courses and using their tutors.
“We get more students from GW than from Georgetown or American University,” said Richard Bahar, founder of tutoring company Jefferson Prep. “One reason is because a lot of GW students are from the tri-state area, which has a tutoring culture.”
Mentor Test Prep, a D.C.-based tutoring service, reported that while 75 percent of the students they see are young professionals who have already graduated, about 5 percent of the company’s annual business comes from GW students. Kaplan, one of the most well-known test preparation companies, does not report numbers, but D.C. employee Jeff Thomas said are they seeing more GW students than ever before.
“There are many different ways a student can prep for the LSAT. The important thing is that they do something,” Thomas said. “It’s really the LSAT and the personal statement that are still in student’s control at this point.”
GW does not currently offer its own LSAT preparation, and many students interviewed reported frustration with the limited application assistance they received from the University.
“I was completely on my own. GW wasn’t a detriment to me in my law school search, but they didn’t really do anything to help me,” said senior Lee Schneider, who used Kaplan to prepare for the test. “If GW offered a class, then I would be inclined to take it. It’d be nice.”
Some students go to private companies not just to do well, but to do better. Bijan Ganji, a GW law student, said that tutoring with Jefferson Prep made a difference on his scores.
“You will never reach your full potential on the LSAT without help. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t jumped points from going to a tutor or a class,” Ganji said. “You have to use a tutor. There are certain things you will never be able to teach yourself or to understand or identify on an exam.”
Ganji, who attended Georgetown for his undergraduate degree, said he turned to Jefferson Prep because he was not getting the help he needed from his university. The company helped him to market a nonprofit organization that he had started, and he was able to incorporate the human rights organization into his personal statement, resume and law school application.
It is up to each individual applicant to decide whether to do test prep, said Matthew Dillard of the GW Law School Admissions Office. GW does not have relationships with outside companies, though Dillard will refer applicants interested in test prep to a few private tutors. If a student needs assistance, his office will try to help.
“We work very hard to ensure any applicant gets the assistance they need,” Dillard said. “We do everything we can to make sure the process is easy for all applicants.”
This article appeared in the March 9, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.