How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

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Longhorn88
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How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby Longhorn88 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:05 am

I've been reading this forum quite a bit and it's been extremely helpful but I have a few questions, especially regarding how LS admissions weight different criteria, that I either haven't been able to find answers on or have found conflicting info.

Background: I'm going to be a senior undergrad this fall at UT-Austin, with a double major in History and the Undergraduate Honors program (though not sure how or even if LS's will consider that). I'm prepping for the October test, which will be my first time taking it. I'm taking a prep course and I've currently gotten 170 and 171 on the practice tests so far so, if everything goes well (knock on wood) I'm expecting to score in the 170-175 range on test day.

Unfortunately my GPA isn't as strong as it should be. I'm currently sitting on a 3.39. That said, I've gotten nearly all my core requirements for my majors out of the way and I'm taking a much more pragmatic view towards my senior year class (relying heavily on professor A percentages). I'm not trying to be cocky, I've just set myself up with extremely easy classes this year which should be surefire A's (once again, knock on wood).

Where I'm very strong is extracurricular. An editor for the campus paper, involved in several student organizations (with leadership positions and recs/projects/etc to prove it, not just titles), and appointed to various student committees. However, I've been told that LS admissions give little to no weight to any extracurricular considerations.

My dilemma is that I'm deciding whether or not to take a gap year between undergrad graduation and enrolling.

Doing so would also allow me to include my senior year grades in my GPA, hopefully boosting it to at least a 3.5. It would also allow me more time to research schools, gather recs, and gain work experience.

The con's are more emotional than rational; I'm not looking forward to the idea of sitting on the sidelines for a year while friends of mine who have shared the same career tract get their acceptances. Also, I'm basing this on a lot of presumptions right now.

Questions:
- How do LS admissions view older applicants? Is work/real-world experience a plus or do they prefer you come straight out of undergrad? Or do they not care at all?
- Have you noticed older LS students preforming differently than those who come straight from undergrad? Better? Worse? Does age play a significant role when it comes to getting hired?
- To what degree is the timing of your application important? I've heard people tell me I should absolutely apply as soon as possible and I've have other people tell me that there's no problem waiting until January.
Last edited by Longhorn88 on Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Pearalegal
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby Pearalegal » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:09 am

A gap year is advised for anyone who is even slightly open to it. Best decision I ever made, professionally, emotionally and perspective-ly.

Your "cons" for doing so are understandable, but you know they aren't actually important. Most schools say they prefer you to have experience, from my attys I've worked for, they said the students with WE were generally more levelheaded and able to handle the workload better than those straight out (no idea if this is true).

Yes, early applications are a very good idea.

acrossthelake
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby acrossthelake » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:10 am

Longhorn88 wrote:right now.

Questions:
- How do LS admissions view older applicants? Is work/real-world experience a plus or do they prefer you come straight out of undergrad? Or do they not care at all?
- Have you noticed older LS students preforming differently than those who come straight from undergrad? Better? Worse? Does age play a significant role when it comes to getting hired?
- To what degree is the timing of your application important? I've heard people tell me I should absolutely apply as soon as possible and I've have other people tell me that there's no problem waiting until January.


1) They prefer you don't come straight out of undergrad, actually, though plenty do.
2) Can't answer this one. I'd imagine it really depends on the individual.
3) It's rolling admissions. The longer you wait, the fewer seats there are left for more and more people. I'm sure you can follow this to the logical conclusion.

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Longhorn88
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby Longhorn88 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:00 pm

Thank you for the replies. I'm leaning more and more towards taking a gap year.

Do you think the type/field of work would be an issue? I'm hoping to use some family connections to get a job somehow related to the legal field, at the very least something in a corporate/office environment.

aPosseAdEsse
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby aPosseAdEsse » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:06 pm

Gap year +1

d34d9823
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby d34d9823 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:07 pm

Longhorn88 wrote:Where I'm very strong is extracurricular. An editor for the campus paper, involved in several student organizations (with leadership positions and recs/projects/etc to prove it, not just titles), and appointed to various student committees. However, I've been told that LS admissions give little to no weight to any extracurricular considerations.

You've gotten good advice so far, I just have a side note. It's not that they don't weigh this, it's that the kind of talented, motivated people who get into top schools generally ALL do these kind of things. They do notice and will ding people who have weak softs and admit people who have subpar numbers but exceptional softs (e.g. being a published author or winning a Rhodes scholarship). People always complain that holistic admissions aren't really holistic, but they fail to consider that the likelihood that their softs are significantly better than those of a person with better numbers is pretty low.

d34d9823
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby d34d9823 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:07 pm

aPosseAdEsse wrote:Gap year +1

I hope this was intentional, because it's awesome.

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gokickrocks
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby gokickrocks » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:48 pm

I was in the same boat a few years ago, and taking a break before applying has been one of the best decisions I've made. Personally, the work experience I've gained has helped me become a more mature individual.

I felt the same exact way in terms of your "cons"; I really did not want to feel left behind. But hey, we all move on our own pace.

09042014
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:53 pm

gokickrocks wrote:I was in the same boat a few years ago, and taking a break before applying has been one of the best decisions I've made. Personally, the work experience I've gained has helped me become a more mature individual.

I felt the same exact way in terms of your "cons"; I really did not want to feel left behind. But hey, we all move on our own pace.


If you guys feel "left behind" because you aren't starting law school when your besties are, you could probably use a year to mature anyway.

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ArchRoark
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby ArchRoark » Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:56 pm

IMHO take the year off. I have a few friends that started law school right out of UG and most of them have said they wished they took a year off. One year really isn't going to make a difference. Also, 3.50 vs a 3.30 is a decent difference.

Again, take this advice with a grain of salt. I am a 0L that has taken 1 year off (will be two by the time I start law school) and I am glad I took the time off.
Last edited by ArchRoark on Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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MrKappus
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby MrKappus » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:00 pm

I think everyone should take at least one year off before going to graduate school. It gives you perspective, puts you out in the world, gets you experience, teaches self-sufficiency (if you're not on your parents' dime), strengthens the resume OR allows you to travel, and generally improves grad schools by filling their classes with people who actually have something to add to discussions besides their UG extracurriculars. Also, in my anecdotal experience, people w/ 1+ years out are hungrier, work harder, and get better grades (b/c they're more familiar w/ what happens in the real world if they fail).

Take the gap year. Hell, take two. You'll be glad you did.

Just my $0.02.

czelede
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby czelede » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:04 pm

Gap year.

+ Looks better to adcomms and employers
+ You'll have higher grades when applying
+ More time to put an excellent application together so that you can
+ Get your application in early

As for what you do, it doesn't really matter THAT much as long as it's not just sitting around at home with your parents. Travel. Work for an NGO. Do something you love and have some fun. Make your off year into an experience that you will look upon fondly so you have more to bring to the classroom when you do get to school.

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vanwinkle
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Re: How much of a consideration is age or a gap year?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:25 pm

Law school is a lot more real-job-like than undergrad ever could be. You have to be more self-reliant; you get less guidance on the things you really need to know unless you seek it out yourself. For this reason alone it's really valuable to get a year of WE--almost any will do--and get yourself out of the UG mindset. This is one of a few reasons folks with WE do better generally in law school than folks who don't.

It doesn't matter too much what your job is, though there will be a bit of a plus for anything conveying responsibility of any sort. A wide range of jobs can do this. It'll also help during the job hunt while in law school, because not everyone at your school will have WE and it'll be one way to stand out a little. Employers like people with WE because it suggests you know what to expect from the real world more than the fresh-from-UG kids. It's not going to make a huge difference, but it can still make one.




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