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Harvard Law School Looks to Expand Public University Representation in Junior Deferral Program

Law School in The Summer
Students eat lunch outside of the Harvard Law School Library.

Two admissions cycles after Harvard Law School opened its Junior Deferral Program to non-Harvard students, the school is still looking to increase the number of applicants from public colleges and universities, the assistant dean for admissions said in an interview Monday.

The Junior Deferral Program — launched in 2014 — allows juniors in college to apply to Harvard Law School under the condition that, if accepted, they defer their admission for at least two years. Students who are rejected from the program may speak with a Law School admissions officer about their application. It was only open to Harvard undergraduates when it first launched, but it expanded to students from all undergraduate institutions in 2017.

Law School Assistant Dean for Admissions Kristi L. Jobson ’06 said the number of undergraduate institutions represented in the program is skewed toward private universities — both large and small.

“We're mindful that many, many thousands of college students in this country go to public schools. It's important to have a diversity of undergraduate institutions represented in the class,” Jobson, a former Crimson editor, said.

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Of the 42 undergraduate institutions currently represented in the expanded JDP program’s cohort, seven are public, including Arizona State University; the University of California, Berkeley; McGill University; University of Georgia; University of Idaho; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the University of Texas, Austin.

In an effort to encourage students from across the country to apply, Jobson said staff in her office are planning to travel to more than 75 undergraduate institutions this year. Last year, the Law School traveled to 65 schools.

“We're trying to be mindful of visiting a lot of schools in new geographic regions that we haven’t visited before,” Jobson said. “Some examples for this year include Louisiana, Minnesota, and the Pacific Northwest.”

In addition to increasing their physical presence on campuses across the country, the Law School “revamped” its JDP website, created blog posts, and published videos detailing students’ experiences, Jobson said. They also held virtual information sessions specific to JDP applicants. So far they have held three virtual information sessions — two providing information for JDP applicants and one providing information for pre-law advisors.

“We hope that that enhanced online and virtual presence in addition to all of our recruitment efforts at various colleges are compelling,” Jobson said.

Jobson said the Law School will not release the individual admissions data for the program this year, as had been their practice in the past. She said, however, that the program is reflective of the regular admission JD class for the year they applied — including GRE scores, LSAT scores, and grade point averages.

“We don't necessarily have any caps in mind for JDP or any goal numbers,” Jobson said. “It's all going to always be reflective of the pool of applicants that we see.”

—Michelle G. Kurilla can be reached at michelle.kurilla@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @MichelleKurilla

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