Kaplan Seeks to Occupy Vacant Business Space in Lower Sproul

Photo: Kaplan, a test preparation and tutoring company that already has two locations in the Berkeley area, has showed interest in establishing a new branch on Lower Sproul.
Skyler Reid/Staff
Kaplan, a test preparation and tutoring company that already has two locations in the Berkeley area, has showed interest in establishing a new branch on Lower Sproul.

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Test preparation company Kaplan is in negotiations with the ASUC Auxiliary to open a new location in Lower Sproul Plaza, ASUC officials said.

Officials have not yet reached an agreement, but the negotiations have been ongoing for about a month and a half, said Tom Spivey, associate director of the ASUC Auxiliary.

Nadesan Permaul, director of the ASUC Auxiliary, announced at an ASUC Senate meeting on Sept. 10 that Kaplan had made a formal proposal to the ASUC Auxiliary to move into a long-vacant space near Gelateria Naia.

The proposed terms of the lease were discussed at the store operations board meeting last night and will not be released publicly until a formal agreement is reached, Spivey said.

Kaplan's services include preparation courses for graduate school entrance examinations such as the GRE, MCAT and LSAT, as well as standardized test preparation or tutoring for K-12.

Spivey said that Kaplan was the first interested business to come forward for the vacancy and was well-suited for the space, which does not accommodate food preparation.

Spivey said the ASUC Store Operations Board is also trying to negotiate a deal with Kaplan in which it would offer discounts to students on financial aid who are seeking test preparation help. However, the size of the discounts and criteria for eligible students have not yet been decided, he said.

"We brought (the idea) to Kaplan and they responded favorably," Spivey said.

Kaplan spokespeople said that they would only comment on finalized deals.

There are already two Kaplan centers in Berkeley, with one near Shattuck Avenue and Center Street and the other on University Avenue.

Permaul said the board also hopes to negotiate a deal whereby two students from the Haas School of Business would intern at the on-campus Kaplan center.

Representatives from the Student Learning Center, the UC Berkeley-sponsored student tutoring center also located in Lower Sproul Plaza, said that having Kaplan nearby would not likely hurt their business.

"I don't see any problem in terms of competition," said Luisa Giulianetti, assistant director of the center. "An important thrust of what we do is peer-to-peer, whereas Kaplan is more top-down."

Giulianetti said the center does not offer formal test prep services, unlike Kaplan, and that most of the students who go there are first- and second-year students looking for help with classes rather than graduate school examinations.

The space which may be filled by Kaplan was previously occupied by The Postal Annex, Spivey said. It has been vacant for at least a year and a half.


Valerie Woolard covers student government. Contact her at [email protected]

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