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HLS is for Lovers…of Applying Late

Harvard is causing quite a stir this year. As announced on their garish blog, they will be accepting the February LSAT for applicants who want to begin law school this upcoming fall.

Their stated reason is the postponement of the LSAT for many test-takers due to winter storms throughout the country. And many people are saying that’s most likely the case.

However, there is another, vocal group who insists that they’re accepting later applications to make up for the decline in applicants – a decline of 11% again, continuing the recent downward trend.

So which is it? A nice gesture to those who were screwed by Mother Nature, or a blatant attempt to get a few more applicants to pad their numbers? A magnanimous act, or an act of desperation?

If I had to guess, more of the former, but a bit of the latter.

Harvard is always ranked 2nd or 3rd; it ranks at the top of name-recognition. It’s pulling in solid applicants. I don’t think they are (yet) desperate for enough qualified people to fill their ranks. Sure, they may have to admit a few students with sparse resumes; they’re still filling their ranks with people who have high GPAs and LSAT scores.

I have also found that the people taking the LSAT later in the application season tend to be those who work full-time; a group that has it hard enough already trying to balance their real life with law school applications.

So HLS, wanting to create the best class it can, saw an opportunity to allow those who might have more experience apply despite bad weather conditions, they took it.

But. The decline in applicants is definitely breathing down their necks. Everyone must be feeling it at this point, and it will be easier in the future to loosen their admission requirements (e.g. the deadline) if the precedent has already been set.

So while I don’t think they needed to relax the deadline this year, I do think they will need to eventually (see my post next week on predictions for law school in 2014). And relaxing the deadline next year will be easier if they’ve already done it this year.