The Georgetown University Law Center saw a record-breaking number of applications and a significant increase in overall diversity of the incoming class during the historic 2021 admissions cycle.
Despite the virtual academic environment that many students endured amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law Center received 14,052 applications for the incoming class of 2024, a 41% increase from the 2020 admissions cycle. This increase marked the most applicants out of any accredited U.S. law school in history; notably, there was a 12.6% increase in law school applications nationwide during this cycle.
Of the incoming class, 40% identify as people of color, an 8% increase from the last admissions cycle; furthermore, 54% identify as women. First-generation college students make up 11% of the class.
According to Jade Baker, president of the GULC Bar Association, the school will benefit greatly from this increase in diversity.
“Diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and the more perspectives we have in the law school, the better lawyers of tomorrow we’ll all be,” Baker wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The class includes 110 Opportunity Scholars, a designation for students with high academic achievement and significant financial need. The Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was established in 2009, has nearly doubled the amount of participating students in the last decade, according to Andrew Cornblatt, dean of admissions at the Law Center.
“We’ve very much focused on fundraising for that, and we’ve had great success, and the number of Opportunity Scholars has dramatically grown over time,” Cornblatt said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya.
The past year’s political climate and prevalence of law in current events contributed to the increase, according to Cornblatt.
“There was this incredible focus on law-related things from July or August of 2020 through March and April of 2021,” Cornblatt said. “There was this constant, constant impact of people of the law and courts and judges and justices impacting everything. They were the guardrails of what people could get away with. Everything was law related: immigration, criminal justice, elections.”
Young people are realizing the importance of preserving constitutional democracy and working within the legal system, and see Washington, D.C., as a prime place to pursue law, according to William Treanor, the dean of the Law Center.
“There’s also a recognition that Georgetown is a place that’s focused on service and it’s Washington, D.C., and so as applications surged nationally, we increased at a dramatically higher level than other schools,” Treanor said in a phone interview with The Hoya.
Even with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the typical application cycle, the Law Center still saw a three-point increase in the median Law School Admission Test score of incoming students and a median GPA of 3.85, both of which set the highest record in the school’s history.
COVID-19 also changed the way the Law Center interacted with applicants, yielding positive results that might change how the Law Center conducts admissions, according to Cornblatt.
“This year, with Zoom, I went to six continents, I went to 50 states, I went to 37 countries, and I never left my dining room, and so I was able to expand the geography of all this,” Cornblatt said. “That was very exciting and I met almost 3,000 applicants, so that allowed more personal input into the admissions decision.”
The Law Center’s efforts to admit a geographically diverse group of students reflect an overarching commitment to diversity in the admissions process and a focus on building a global class of students from varied backgrounds, according to Treanor.
“Our focus is on making sure that the most qualified people are at Georgetown Law and that every voice is in the room,” Treanor said. “We think that that’s a very important part of education as students: Hear perspectives and people with different backgrounds and engage in dialogue.”
Cornblatt said that even though students enter the Law Center with a variety of backgrounds, they are all united by a desire to drive change amid anxious times.
“They were looking for the future, because where they were right now felt a little dark, and they were ready just to sort of spread their wings,” Cornblatt said.