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Taking time off between undergrad and law school

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Obviously this is going to generate subjective answers, but I'm curious to hear what other people think - is it better to take time off between undergrad and law school doing other things? Has anyone done so and regretted it, or not done so and wish they had?

For context: my current plan is that if I get my LSAT score back and I'm not happy with it, I would rewrite/wait until 2021 to apply instead of this year. I'd be fine with this as I'm going into my final year of undergrad, so I could focus just on that until April at least. However, there's some part of me that's starting to wonder whether I should postpone a year even if I get a decent score. Truthfully, I feel kind of burnt out from school, and normally this feeling subsides during summer breaks doing non-academic activities. This year I happen to be taking summer classes, and I'd been studying for the LSAT for 8 months, so that feeling hasn't gone away. On the other hand, I graduated high school notably later than I should have because I was dealing with health problems, and I'm already uncomfortable being "behind." I do have a plan of what I could do for work in the extra time, but with the pandemic I'm not sure it would still shake out very well, and one extra semester of school would be involved. Moreover, taking an extra year off would likely mean I'd have to move to a brand-new city at least twice, instead of just once for law school. (Of course this is all presuming I'd get accepted in 2021 in the first place should I postpone.)

Naturally, if I get a bad score my decision is already made. Still curious to hear others' experiences, whether my personal situation is relevant to your responses or not.

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I don't see anything wrong with taking a year off if you know you'll be doing something productive in that time being. It may be a good idea for you as you mentioned you feel kind of burnt out so maybe a little break after undergrad would benefit you in the long run. I would say travel and explore but of course the pandemic wouldn't allow that. 

I also took time off after university but for reasons other than the ones you mentioned. I wanted to work, save up a little and invest before I commit myself to another 3 years of school so it worked out for me. (I also only started studying for the LSAT after graduation)

I personally don't think being "behind" is something you should worry about, as long as you are happy and content with what you are doing while working towards your law school applications. Everyone has their own timeline. 

Good luck!

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25 minutes ago, Dreamchaser said:

I don't see anything wrong with taking a year off if you know you'll be doing something productive in that time being...

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Under normal circumstances, the job opportunity I was thinking of often involves travelling, but of course with the pandemic I have no idea how long everything will take to get back to normal. There's also very little local opportunity for it in my case, and it pays moderately at best unless one has years of experience. Ideally I would have used it to pay off some of my undergrad debt and get a change of scenery. If it didn't work out I'd definitely be looking for other temporary career options, but I'd have no idea where to start. 

Logically, I know that being behind isn't really a thing, and I don't hold other people to this standard. But without getting into detail it's an insecurity I've had for a long time and I know that unless I changed my mind about pursuing law at all, it would continue to bother me. 

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When are you graduating undergrad? When are you writing your LSAT?

You can rewrite your LSAT later in the year as well in case you don't get a decent score and still be considered for the 2021cycle.

I am assuming if you're finishing April of next year and don't want to waste an entire year, you could still apply to start Fall 2021 and have the summer to yourself. Given that there is no certainty about how the pandemic will look like next year, you may want to weigh out pros and cons of taking a gap year before being left with a poor job market lol. 

I can sort of relate with the "being behind" feeling/insecurity as well since I hoped to have finished formal education by 26 and I'm almost 26 and haven't even started law school so I get that. But I'm sure once you get to law school, it wouldn't matter much and you'll find others who are the same age as you or maybe older? :) 

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48 minutes ago, Dreamchaser said:

When are you graduating undergrad? When are you writing your LSAT?

You can rewrite your LSAT later in the year as well in case you don't get a decent score and still be considered for the 2021cycle.

I am assuming if you're finishing April of next year and don't want to waste an entire year, you could still apply to start Fall 2021 and have the summer to yourself. Given that there is no certainty about how the pandemic will look like next year, you may want to weigh out pros and cons of taking a gap year before being left with a poor job market lol. 

I can sort of relate with the "being behind" feeling/insecurity as well since I hoped to have finished formal education by 26 and I'm almost 26 and haven't even started law school so I get that. But I'm sure once you get to law school, it wouldn't matter much and you'll find others who are the same age as you or maybe older? :) 

Graduating in April 2021, yes. I wrote the LSAT two weeks ago. If I needed/wanted to rewrite, I would almost certainly wait until next summer so that I had a specific block of time to dedicate to restudying, as I spent the entirety of my third year studying for the July sitting and it wasn't fun to juggle that and full-time classes. 

I've been volunteering/working in "dead-end" jobs since I was 13 and I would rather scoop my own eyeballs out with a spork than go back to retail. This was supposed to be my last summer of doing so (I got laid off anyway so lol). Not keen on graduating into a market where that would be one of my few options for work in the gap year if Plan A didn't pan out.

My age would be super unremarkable for any postgrad program, haha. But my personal insecurity over being behind is something I know won't go away anytime soon, so I unfortunately have to factor it in. In any case, I get my score back at the end of this month, so the decision could get real simple pretty soon.

 

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6 hours ago, lh22 said:

Graduating in April 2021, yes. I wrote the LSAT two weeks ago. If I needed/wanted to rewrite, I would almost certainly wait until next summer so that I had a specific block of time to dedicate to restudying, as I spent the entirety of my third year studying for the July sitting and it wasn't fun to juggle that and full-time classes. 

I've been volunteering/working in "dead-end" jobs since I was 13 and I would rather scoop my own eyeballs out with a spork than go back to retail. This was supposed to be my last summer of doing so (I got laid off anyway so lol). Not keen on graduating into a market where that would be one of my few options for work in the gap year if Plan A didn't pan out.

My age would be super unremarkable for any postgrad program, haha. But my personal insecurity over being behind is something I know won't go away anytime soon, so I unfortunately have to factor it in. In any case, I get my score back at the end of this month, so the decision could get real simple pretty soon.

 

I wish you luck!! I know July scores are out soon so you'll know sooner than later what you should be doing with your time. 

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Hey! Please PM me if you would like but I just want to say that I am SO relieved that I took a year off between my undergrad and law school and a lot of my friends who went straight after undergrad wish they had a break. If you already feel burnt out, I would say starting law school that way is probably not a good idea. Jobs, among other things, are highly dependent on your grades and you want to enter with your best foot forward!!

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I went right after undergrad (which I did right after high school). Burnt out may be too strong a description, but I was definitely starting to head in that direction. I worked full time in my fourth year of undergrad, so by the end of that I was in need of a bit of a break, but I didn’t really get one because law school hits the ground running. 
Part of my problem, though, was that I thought if I took a year off, I’d never go back. I’d get a taste of a school-free life. My job was in retail, so as a low level supervisor, none of that ever came home with me. My time off work was my own. I would have had very few expenses, which meant that my paycheck felt like more than enough. All these factors, I thought, would potentially make me too comfortable to disrupt my life by applying/going to law school, so I didn’t give myself that break.

All this to say, in essence: if you think you need a year, take it. I think if I had, I would have gone to law school refreshed, and more willing to put in the hours to do more reading, and I would have been more interested in joining clubs or extracurriculars. Don’t try to “take your break” during 1L, like I did from Sept-Nov.

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1 hour ago, lawcat said:

Hey! Please PM me if you would like but I just want to say that I am SO relieved that I took a year off between my undergrad and law school and a lot of my friends who went straight after undergrad wish they had a break. If you already feel burnt out, I would say starting law school that way is probably not a good idea. Jobs, among other things, are highly dependent on your grades and you want to enter with your best foot forward!!

Couldn't agree more with this. Not only this, but saving up money before going back and dropping $15k+/year on tuition alone is never a bad idea in my mind

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Really appreciate the advice, y'all. As TobyFlenderson said, I'd be concerned I'd enjoy being out of school too much and wind up dawdling longer than intended (if I found work I was okay with in the first place). I also have undergrad debt, so although I could likely pay off some of it, I probably wouldn't be able to save much to make a difference unless I stayed in the workforce for more than a year or two.

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I really think it depends on the situation. Personally, I had been planning for a couple of years to take a year off to save a little bit of money for tuition and write the LSAT. I was able to do both of these and also find some new interests that I didn't have time for during my undergrad. The past year has also given me some perspective. For example, I work in a field relevant to my undergrad program and I don't like it one bit (only two more weeks, thank goodness!). I see people feeling stuck here, living paycheque to paycheque, and being unable to do work of significance. Because of this experience I know that no matter how tough things get in law school and in practice, I'll never forget how lucky I am to be a part of the legal community. My work experiences have made me even more excited to go back to school and eventually become a lawyer.

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3 hours ago, lh22 said:

Really appreciate the advice, y'all. As TobyFlenderson said, I'd be concerned I'd enjoy being out of school too much and wind up dawdling longer than intended (if I found work I was okay with in the first place). I also have undergrad debt, so although I could likely pay off some of it, I probably wouldn't be able to save much to make a difference unless I stayed in the workforce for more than a year or two.

This was me. And I was terrified that taking that gap would discourage me from ever going back to school. But I'm 100% happy it was the route I took.

Even though it's the more common route, I can't imagine just jumping into law school fresh from undergrad. I immensely value the work experience (soft skills / hard skills / exposure to different areas) I have from before law school, as well as the opportunity to make money (I come from a low-income background) and travel extensively. Law school means 3 years of busy semesters and busy summers, a busy articling year, often low wages, and constantly "trying to prove yourself", whereas there's value in seeing the different corporate cultures out there and enjoying more of a work-life balance while you're young.      

I worked in a professional role, got a good taste of a law firm environment, made decent money (especially with overtime), traveled the world extensively (pre-covid), and saved. After a year I had planned to write the LSAT and begin my applications, but I just didn't have the spare time for the LSAT or to research schools or to draft my applications, and I had become complacent after receiving a significant  promotion, so I figured I'd give it another year and re-assess. My new role showed me a different area that really motivated me to pursue law school, so a year later I made a concerted effort into going back to school (applying broadly, studying hard for the LSAT, researching all the schools and programs of potential interest, etc) and here I go. I can't imagine investing a year of your life and tuition cost to attend law school without yet knowing whether it's a real interest and whether it's an environment you'll enjoy... but that's just me. 

Don't be afraid to live life. You don't need to take the fastest route.     

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This is very personal and everyone has different backgrounds they respectively come from. I will be attending law school this year and I am a K-JD. I have spent my entire life in school and honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every year when July/August comes around, I get the itch to go back to school and to be fair, it’s the only thing I have been exposed to. Personally I would rather finish school as quickly as I can so I can start working, saving, investing, buying a house and the list goes on... Also this might be a better time to go to school than any other time as the employment market is not looking the greatest it has been. 

 

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Over summers doing other things, I tend to get bored in the kind of temporary work I normally do, and usually am ready to go back to school once autumn rolls around. It could be that the summer after graduation will be completely enough for me. I know for sure I won't earn enough money to do much but pay off a bit of debt and live from day-to-day if I wait. 

Also, upon getting my score back this morning, I was surprised at how excited I got seeing it. Nothing's been really solidified so far, so maybe part of the burnout is from not having anything tangible to show for academic effort until now. I've been really looking forward to finishing undergrad and starting a new chapter and law school has been my motivating goal. I know too many people right now who ended their education at an undergrad and have struggled to find work they like, even before the pandemic. 

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