Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
ellacataluna
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Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:19 pm

Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

Postby ellacataluna » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:36 pm

Hi all,

This is my first time posting on this site, so excuse me if I mess up etiquette! But straight to the point -- I'm a sophomore who is deciding between a full year program at Oxford (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) vs. a spring semester program at Cambridge (philosophy only). I've gotten into both and need to make a decision very soon. The main things I'm worried about are LSAT prep and recommendation writers. Doing either program would make prepping for the LSAT difficult (I imagine). Ideally I would've liked to take it junior summer, but I won't even be in the US until late June/early July because English university academic years end much later than American academic years.

I'm also worried about finding recommendation writers. I was told by a friend that I ought to ideally have three recommendations -- two from professors who know me very well, and a third from someone who might not be as close with me but who looks good on paper. I have two people in mind, one professor who knows me very well and another who looks great on paper and is familiar with my writing, but I am still missing one rec writer.

There might be other things I'm not considering that I just don't know about. I would appreciate any and all thoughts on the matter.

EDIT: To make it clear, I'm wondering whether I should do the semester program or the full year program. Will being abroad for a full year hurt my chances of being able to prepare for the law school application process/the LSAT? The major test-prep places that I was interested in don't have offices in the UK, which means my only option would be to self-study. In general, do you think it's worth studying abroad if it makes LSAT prep difficult?
Last edited by ellacataluna on Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RZ5646
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Re: Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

Postby RZ5646 » Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:56 pm

ellacataluna wrote: I was told by a friend that I ought to ideally have three recommendations -- two from professors who know me very well, and a third from someone who might not be as close with me but who looks good on paper


I wouldn't trust this. Adcoms won't care about how good a recommender looks unless he's actually the president or something, and in that case it's extremely unlikely that he would know you well enough to write a compelling letter. LoRs are about the student, not the people writing them.

I also don't understand how this has anything to do with your study abroad plans. Is there a question there somewhere? Do you desperately need another LoR and the Queen of England forbids Oxbridge professors from writing LoRs? I don't get it.

There are LSAT test centers outside of North America, and it wouldn't kill you to take the LSAT later anyway.

This post reads as an obnoxious humblebrag.

ellacataluna
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 11:19 pm

Re: Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

Postby ellacataluna » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:25 am

Hi RZ, I'm very sorry that my post came across that way. And I'm sorry that I was unclear in what I was asking -- I edited the original post a bit to clarify. But to answer your question, I asked a lot of people I know who studied abroad at Oxbridge for advice, and the general consensus seemed to be that English professors wrote recommendations stylistically very differently from American professors, in a way that law schools weren't very receptive to. I don't know if that's true, but I don't feel comfortable risking it unless I hear otherwise. I know a lot of this is hearsay! But my study abroad adviser just tells me to "go where my heart desires" and have a fun cultural experience, which is nice of her but not that helpful, and I haven't been able to find a more reliable source of information. :(

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twenty
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Re: Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

Postby twenty » Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:10 am

1) Self-study, for the most part, should be fine. Go look at LSAT prep stuff on the LSAT prep forum. I can't really think of any real advantage to a class over Powerscore bibles and lots of PTs.
2) Your LORs matter slightly more than your favorite color, and slightly less than your major. In short, not very. Even only having two LORs is probably fine at most places.
3) If you want to study abroad for a full year, do that. If you want to do a semester, do that. Worst case (alternatively, best case?) scenario, you put off law school for a year after undergrad, which you should probably do regardless.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Studying Abroad for a Semester or a Full Year

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:05 am

Do whichever program you prefer. You can self study for the LSAT, or come back and take a course and take the exam during your senior year. As for recommendations, you're actually probably correct as to British profs and their approaches to letters (at least, that used to be true, I don't know if they've Americanized at all since I last looked into this), but if you already have two good American profs lined up you'll be fine and I'm sure you can find a third if you want one.

Basically going abroad for a year only "hurts" your law school prep plans to the extent you've rigidly/artificially decided you have to prep/apply a certain way. You don't have to prep/apply that way. You could go for a semester and take the LSAT before you go; you could go for a year and take the LSAT while you're abroad; you could go for either a semester or a year and take the LSAT after you get back; you could take the LSAT after you graduate; all are options.




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