will taking a semester off hurt my application?

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lingering11
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will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:36 am

Will Law School Admission committees view my spring semester off in bad light? Especially since my first year of Undergradcollege I had bad grades. It has improved the last year and now I want to take this semester off and finish in my fifth year of undergrad. Also, can I take a class the summer before law school starts to finish up my graduation?
Thanks!
Last edited by lingering11 on Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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superflush
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby superflush » Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:47 am

So, I take it that you'll have more school to complete?

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Lomax
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:23 am

In some cases, it may. How much, I know not. On some applications one is required to disclose any breaks in undergraduate study and explain them fully. As this is not a leave of absence for unavoidable reasons, it may be looked upon unfavorably, but also note that some schools force disclosure on the application of only year-long absences or longer. Perhaps it might be thought by some that you tried to "beat the system" by departing from the norm and taking the LSAT after a full semester devoted to studying it, while almost all others are taking it at a relative disadvantage. I would advise against this course of action and hope that you would simply lessen your course load and study while still in school, devoting less time to outside activities. Consider that at some point you have studied for the LSAT as much as is useful to.

You will be able to take a class in the summer to finish up your degree, but you will have to disclose that that is what you plan on doing in your application. It would be better to take that last class in the spring instead, even if it means overloading on classes. Law schools will generally not see your spring grades before making their decisions, unless you apply late or want them to.

predetermined wrote:Some applications require you to discuss any interruptions to your schoolwork, in which case you'd have to explain why you took the semester off. But that's assuming you're taking zero classes. Only taking 1 class would exempt you from that requirement, but it's probably going to raise an eyebrow at your reaches either way. (And yes, you'll have to send them your final transcript before starting your first year of law school.)


I am not quite sure that it would. Most would identify going from 15 hours to 3 as taking a semester off. Failing to disclose this as such could be looked upon unfavorably, even if the criteria for having to disclose was technically not met. The law school can view a breakdown of grades on the LSAC report and see that the semester was at least practically taken off, I think. Not a good idea in any case, this.

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superflush
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby superflush » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:30 am

predetermined wrote:Some applications require you to discuss any interruptions to your schoolwork, in which case you'd have to explain why you took the semester off. [strike]But that's assuming you're taking zero classes.[/strike]


yes, ... they may ask if there was any period of 6 months when you are not a full-time student.

Miracle
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Miracle » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:50 am

Depends why you're taking a semester off. I took a semester off last fall due to economic meltdown, hoping I would be back in the Spring, but situation at my household only worsened forcing me to take another semester off. In my situation I had no choice, in yours it looks like you do.

lingering11
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:23 pm

well I wouldn't be taking the semester off to wholly focus on the lsat. I would be working due to economic reasons. I just don't want the admissiosn committee to think that I have too many addendums because I also have bad grades that improved over time (including some withdrawels).

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Lomax
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:46 pm

lingering11 wrote:well I wouldn't be taking the semester off to wholly focus on the lsat. I would be working due to economic reasons. I just don't want the admissiosn committee to think that I have too many addendums because I also have bad grades that improved over time (including some withdrawels).


Perhaps you will be withdrawing from law school for economic reasons then? There are loans and financial aid for UG just like there are for law school. You seem to be building a high-risk application as it is - it is time now for damage control, and taking a semester off to make some money and study for the LSAT does not qualify as that. Of course, if you do not mind settling for a lesser law school than your numbers would normally get you into, feel free to do whatever.

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webbylu87
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby webbylu87 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:50 pm

Why not contact the schools you are interested in and ask? Create a free email and do it that way if you're concerned about anonymity. They're the only ones who can really answer this.

lingering11
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:13 pm

Lomax wrote:
lingering11 wrote:well I wouldn't be taking the semester off to wholly focus on the lsat. I would be working due to economic reasons. I just don't want the admissiosn committee to think that I have too many addendums because I also have bad grades that improved over time (including some withdrawels).


Perhaps you will be withdrawing from law school for economic reasons then? There are loans and financial aid for UG just like there are for law school. You seem to be building a high-risk application as it is - it is time now for damage control, and taking a semester off to make some money and study for the LSAT does not qualify as that. Of course, if you do not mind settling for a lesser law school than your numbers would normally get you into, feel free to do whatever.


you're right. it is time for damage control. but, I was thinking the opposite of you in that damage control means an above than average LSAT score and the only way to do that is to start studying now. I'm in no rush to graduate so I don't see why I would study for the LSAT now, work, and take a full courseload--then I would just mess everything up that I've been working for because I would be overloaded and possibly get worse grades.

lingering11
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:22 pm

webbylu87 wrote:Why not contact the schools you are interested in and ask? Create a free email and do it that way if you're concerned about anonymity. They're the only ones who can really answer this.


ok so I called the admissions department at the law school that I want to go to and they said that as long as I explain what is happening that it is fine. Also, I went to my undergraduate advisement and he said the exact same thing. They said they look closer if there is a big chunk of time taken away (like a full year) a semester is not as alarming. So, now, my question now is is do I trust the people that I talked to that it will be fine or should I take 2 classes and a class pass/fail, work, and study. My GPA is around a 3.25 and want to go to a school where the median is around a 3.5 GPA, so an LSAT of 170+ is necessary. What to do ? will a higher lsat score be countered by the fact that I am taking an easier load?

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Lomax
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Lomax » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:18 pm

lingering11 wrote:you're right. it is time for damage control. but, I was thinking the opposite of you in that damage control means an above than average LSAT score and the only way to do that is to start studying now. I'm in no rush to graduate so I don't see why I would study for the LSAT now, work, and take a full courseload--then I would just mess everything up that I've been working for because I would be overloaded and possibly get worse grades.


As we have been saying, there is only so much studying for the LSAT that one can do. Once you understand the structure of the potential types of questions on it, you have nothing left to learn. From then on it is just taking practice test after practice test. Really, one should be able to dedicate plenty of time to studying for the LSAT during a normal semester of college without overloading and/or getting worse grades. Doing so would save you from potentially unnecessarily drawing negative attention to your application.

lingering11 wrote:ok so I called the admissions department at the law school that I want to go to and they said that as long as I explain what is happening that it is fine. Also, I went to my undergraduate advisement and he said the exact same thing. They said they look closer if there is a big chunk of time taken away (like a full year) a semester is not as alarming. So, now, my question now is is do I trust the people that I talked to that it will be fine or should I take 2 classes and a class pass/fail, work, and study. My GPA is around a 3.25 and want to go to a school where the median is around a 3.5 GPA, so an LSAT of 170+ is necessary. What to do ? will a higher lsat score be countered by the fact that I am taking an easier load?


That is a positive development. It means that you have less to worry about should you go ahead with your plan. It does not mean that you have nothing to worry about should you do so. That was only one individual working for one admissions department who told you that going through with the plan would not hurt should it be properly explained. However, another admissions officer at that school might be reviewing your application and see things differently, potentially dropping you down in the event of a tie with another applicant. You will also be applying to other schools that might have different policies. You will by no means guarantee yourself a higher LSAT score by taking a semester off to study. Most likely, you will achieve the same score as you would have achieved had you studied diligently while attending school as normal. In that event, you will have done yourself no good. However, if you are dead set on going through with this plan, I would advise you to go all-out and take only the one class, or, perhaps, none at all. Maybe even get yourself a cabin on some beach in Mexico and study for the LSAT while enjoying a vacation there. Better make the most of your risky business.

lingering11
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:35 am

ok, I've decided not to go through with this plan but to take 12 units. Is taking 12 units (3 classes) viewed in bad light as opposed to taking 16 units (4 classes). I would be taking 2 2 unit classes in which one would be P/NP. Also, if I were to spend a semester away from school doing mainly volunteer work to help communities would Law School Admissions view this as bad?

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superflush
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby superflush » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:14 am

lingering11 wrote:ok, I've decided not to go through with this plan but to take 12 units. Is taking 12 units (3 classes) viewed in bad light as opposed to taking 16 units (4 classes).


I don't think anyone would notice.

lingering11
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby lingering11 » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:37 am

predetermined wrote:I think taking 3 classes is fine, although I don't understand how you'd have 3 classes with 2 2 unit classes. (I've never seen an 8 unit class before.) Are you still planning to work during this semester?

Withdrawing for a semester to do volunteer work would probably be looked upon somewhat favorably, but, er, is this something you're considering for this semester? I.e. another way to give yourself more time to study for the LSAT? Because again, you just don't need that much time.

Also, it's probably not worth doing if it doesn't tie into your reasons for going to law school--you'd be much better off taking classes to raise your GPA. And adcoms will be more impressed if you volunteer while taking classes. You should check and see if you can get credit for it.


no it wouldn't be this semester. It would definately be tied to my reasons to going to Law School. I meant that I am taking 4 classes but 12 units. So 2 classes are 2 units. The two unit classes don't count toward my undergrad major though so it would be mainly the reason for interest in the course/and to be a fulltime student.

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im_blue
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby im_blue » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:01 am

You can finish up your graduation requirements the summer before attending law school, as long as you receive your diploma before the first day of orientation or classes (policy differs by school).

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Lomax
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Lomax » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:16 am

lingering11 wrote:
predetermined wrote:I think taking 3 classes is fine, although I don't understand how you'd have 3 classes with 2 2 unit classes. (I've never seen an 8 unit class before.) Are you still planning to work during this semester?

Withdrawing for a semester to do volunteer work would probably be looked upon somewhat favorably, but, er, is this something you're considering for this semester? I.e. another way to give yourself more time to study for the LSAT? Because again, you just don't need that much time.

Also, it's probably not worth doing if it doesn't tie into your reasons for going to law school--you'd be much better off taking classes to raise your GPA. And adcoms will be more impressed if you volunteer while taking classes. You should check and see if you can get credit for it.


no it wouldn't be this semester. It would definately be tied to my reasons to going to Law School. I meant that I am taking 4 classes but 12 units. So 2 classes are 2 units. The two unit classes don't count toward my undergrad major though so it would be mainly the reason for interest in the course/and to be a fulltime student.


Honestly, it seems to me that you really want a break from the undergraduate grind and are looking for someone to tell you that you are doing the right thing and nothing bad will come of it. You are not going to be helping your application at all by taking nonsensical money-wasters that will only put a question mark in the minds of admissions officers and not do a thing for your LSAC GPA (the only measure that counts) even if you do superbly in all of them. By these I mean the pass/fail courses and/or those that do not count towards your undergraduate degree - if you are talking about something different, then skip a ways. Taking these will not be proving continued commitment to academic excellence, as is perhaps your intention. Instead, it will simply indicate that you slacked off. Taking 12 credit hours towards your degree instead of 15 or 16 for one semester is certainly an option and would not even have to be explained, but it would delay your graduation unnecessarily. You would still be going to school, so what advantage would you gain? More LSAT study time is simply not necessary, as we have been saying. If you really need a semester off to do your own thing while studying the LSAT and/or volunteering, then go ahead and do it - you will be taking on risk all the same, but you will at least be reaping a big reward that way. After all, the law school that you like said that they would not have a problem with your taking a semester off to study the LSAT so long as you explain the leave on your application, or so you say.

That said, I honestly do not believe that you will be hurting yourself all that much should you do what you say you want to do right now. You should not be constantly second-guessing your decision should you go with it, as there should be relatively little to worry about.

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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Miracle » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:54 am

Lomax wrote:
lingering11 wrote:well I wouldn't be taking the semester off to wholly focus on the lsat. I would be working due to economic reasons. I just don't want the admissiosn committee to think that I have too many addendums because I also have bad grades that improved over time (including some withdrawels).


Perhaps you will be withdrawing from law school for economic reasons then? There are loans and financial aid for UG just like there are for law school. You seem to be building a high-risk application as it is - it is time now for damage control, and taking a semester off to make some money and study for the LSAT does not qualify as that. Of course, if you do not mind settling for a lesser law school than your numbers would normally get you into, feel free to do whatever.


Disagree.

In the fall of 2009 there were no private loans-banks were not lending. I don't know what kind of financial aid you receive but I sure don't receive full tuition, and in many instances people lost their jobs during that time restricting them from securing any loan that might be out there! Not to mention, there were many people who had to work just to help out their family stand on their feet.

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KmissP
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby KmissP » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:13 am

"I took a semester off to help the Haitian people rebuild."

vs.

"I took a semester off because medical marijuana is now legal in my state."

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Lomax
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Re: will taking a semester off hurt my application?

Postby Lomax » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:21 pm

Miracle wrote:
Lomax wrote:
lingering11 wrote:well I wouldn't be taking the semester off to wholly focus on the lsat. I would be working due to economic reasons. I just don't want the admissiosn committee to think that I have too many addendums because I also have bad grades that improved over time (including some withdrawels).


Perhaps you will be withdrawing from law school for economic reasons then? There are loans and financial aid for UG just like there are for law school. You seem to be building a high-risk application as it is - it is time now for damage control, and taking a semester off to make some money and study for the LSAT does not qualify as that. Of course, if you do not mind settling for a lesser law school than your numbers would normally get you into, feel free to do whatever.


Disagree.

In the fall of 2009 there were no private loans-banks were not lending. I don't know what kind of financial aid you receive but I sure don't receive full tuition, and in many instances people lost their jobs during that time restricting them from securing any loan that might be out there! Not to mention, there were many people who had to work just to help out their family stand on their feet.


Another (worse) economic collapse is bound to hit us at any moment. Most students did not take semesters off for financial reasons. This would indicate that your financial situation is especially desperate. Would that not give an admissions officer pause when considering to accept you over someone who has a proven ability to stay in school despite times of national economic hardship?




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