Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

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camcam
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Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby camcam » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:51 pm

Lurker here. I have a question about a decision that has become increasing complicated over the past few months.

I'm an AA male at a well-known Southern university. 3.6 (3.71 LSAC) GPA. I haven't started intense LSAT prep just yet, but I have more than enough time to work on my score and get it up to at least a mid/high 160, if not higher.

I came into college with a full-year's worth of AP credits, so I'm currently a second-year Junior. My goal (at first) was to finish up college a year early and get into/finish law school ahead of time.

I've been hearing that a few T14s put a strong focus on experience outside of school, and may even prefer apps that have taken a year off after ug. I have a management position at a resume-writing company, which I expect to keep at least until I graduate. Still, I'm worried that adcomms are going to think that I didn't undergo some ritualistic walk through the woods on shrooms to discover myself and my reasons for going to law school, and that it may negatively affect my decisions.

I have the opportunity to study abroad in Japan sometime next year, which I'm really interested in taking. I was hoping to do a full-year, but I might end up settling for 6mos.

TL;DR/My question: assuming that an extra year in college wouldn't strongly affect my GPA or LSAT score either way, how beneficial would staying an extra year to study abroad be for my apps? Is a break post-ug good for anything other than mental health?

Thanks for your help!

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cotiger
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby cotiger » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:13 pm

camcam wrote:Lurker here. I have a question about a decision that has become increasing complicated over the past few months.

I'm an AA male at a well-known Southern university. 3.6 (3.71 LSAC) GPA. I haven't started intense LSAT prep just yet, but I have more than enough time to work on my score and get it up to at least a mid/high 160, if not higher.

I came into college with a full-year's worth of AP credits, so I'm currently a second-year Junior. My goal (at first) was to finish up college a year early and get into/finish law school ahead of time.

I've been hearing that a few T14s put a strong focus on experience outside of school, and may even prefer apps that have taken a year off after ug. I have a management position at a resume-writing company, which I expect to keep at least until I graduate. Still, I'm worried that adcomms are going to think that I didn't undergo some ritualistic walk through the woods on shrooms to discover myself and my reasons for going to law school, and that it may negatively affect my decisions.

I have the opportunity to study abroad in Japan sometime next year, which I'm really interested in taking. I was hoping to do a full-year, but I might end up settling for 6mos.

TL;DR/My question: assuming that an extra year in college wouldn't strongly affect my GPA or LSAT score either way, how beneficial would staying an extra year to study abroad be for my apps? Is a break post-ug good for anything other than mental health?

Thanks for your help!


If you're interested in studying in Japan, do it. But that won't affect your app one way or the other.

Post-UG work is good for the soul and can give a boost to your app, depending on what it is. If it's work in a particularly in-demand field, then it can also help you get a job post-law school. For apps, though, the hypothetical boost is relatively small (except maybe at a place like Northwestern), and the primary determinant of schools' decisions is going to be your numbers.

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twenty
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby twenty » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:19 pm

So you have about 30 units that are AP (non graded), so the only graded work you have is last year's?

Take all the time you need for undergrad, and get your GPA up. There is a tremendous advantage to being a URM with a high GPA. Trust me, if you start law school as a 20/21-year old, you will unquestioningly be one of (if not the) youngest people there. Slow down, get all the As you can.

If you can get that 3.71 up to a 3.9, or even a 3.85~, you will be doing yourself a huge favor come admissions time.

Good luck.

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midwest17
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby midwest17 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:39 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:So you have about 30 units that are AP (non graded), so the only graded work you have is last year's?

Take all the time you need for undergrad, and get your GPA up. There is a tremendous advantage to being a URM with a high GPA. Trust me, if you start law school as a 20/21-year old, you will unquestioningly be one of (if not the) youngest people there. Slow down, get all the As you can.

If you can get that 3.71 up to a 3.9, or even a 3.85~, you will be doing yourself a huge favor come admissions time.

Good luck.


This. If you've only got one year of grades for your 3.71, then a 3.9 is definitely within reach. That'll do way more for you than studying abroad. (Of course, if you have a strong desire to do the study abroad, it may be worth it. But in terms of law school admissions, the GPA is much more important.)

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Ron Mexico
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby Ron Mexico » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:50 pm

Don't waste money on credits you don't need. If you want to go abroad, go teach for a year.

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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby Anonymous Associate » Sun Oct 20, 2013 5:56 pm

Hi, associate at a V100 here who interviews candidates. You seem to think ahead, so thought I'd chime in from a different perspective.

This feels like a no-brainer to me, but I see others disagree. I would recommend graduating early to (1) save the money on the tuition and (2) maximize the usefulness of your time. Seeing study abroad on a resume doesn't make me feel anything at all about a candidate. I couldn't care less. What really grabs my attention is someone with practical experience. And I mean work experience that is meaningful. Hiring someone who has worked at a company or firm is just more appealing because they get how to function in a job and deal with daily stresses/manage time.

Instead of studying abroad, why not take a year (or a few) off between UG and law school and get some work experience? If you really want to do law, trying being a paralegal or legal assistant in a practice group you think you'd be interested in (and you can make money instead of paying tuition). It'll give you experience and a glimpse into what the work will be like. Or do something else altogether, and then tie it to the law in your applications and during interviews.

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twenty
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby twenty » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:47 pm

Ron Mexico wrote:Don't waste money on credits you don't need. If you want to go abroad, go teach for a year.


These wouldn't be credits OP doesn't need -- these are credits OP will have to get regardless. My suggestion is instead of overloading on 18 credits a semester or whatever to graduate with 3 years in college, OP should slow down to 12 credits a semester, graduate in 3.5-4 years, and do better on grades.

OP can still go study abroad for a semester (in fact, the nature of these pass/fail units will make OP's graded credits even more valuable), but OP's GPA will be higher.

The only additional cost to OP will be an "unnecessary" year in undergrad, which means a year of cost of attendance. The difference between OP's cycle with a 3.85~ as opposed to a 3.71~ will more than make up that expense.

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jordan15
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby jordan15 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:23 pm

Ron Mexico wrote: If you want to go abroad, go teach for a year.


Do this after you stay in school to raise your GPA.

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midwest17
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby midwest17 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:26 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:
Ron Mexico wrote:Don't waste money on credits you don't need. If you want to go abroad, go teach for a year.


These wouldn't be credits OP doesn't need -- these are credits OP will have to get regardless. My suggestion is instead of overloading on 18 credits a semester or whatever to graduate with 3 years in college, OP should slow down to 12 credits a semester, graduate in 3.5-4 years, and do better on grades.

OP can still go study abroad for a semester (in fact, the nature of these pass/fail units will make OP's graded credits even more valuable), but OP's GPA will be higher.

The only additional cost to OP will be an "unnecessary" year in undergrad, which means a year of cost of attendance. The difference between OP's cycle with a 3.85~ as opposed to a 3.71~ will more than make up that expense.


This isn't necessarily true. Most colleges don't charge tuition strictly on a per-credit basis, I don't think. (At least mine didn't).

Regardless, the credits aren't "wasted", in the sense that raising his GPA will give OP a better chance at getting in to better law schools, which will increase he lifetime earning potential.

camcam
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby camcam » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:01 am

Thanks for the great advice!

I probably should've added this earlier, but I have a full ride, so COA isn't an issue. If anything, I'm losing ~$20K in scholarship money if I graduate early. I know that makes me look stupid for wanting to graduate early when there's nothing stopping me from staying, but I guess I'm a bit anxious to finish this entire process.

It seems like the consensus is to stay and build up my GPA. Is it worth taking CC classes over the summer to get in a few more easy classes? The reason my LSAC score is higher than my university GPA is because I've taken 3 classes in CC over the past 2 summers and gotten As that don't transfer over to my university GPA. I had a pretty good freshman year GPA-wise, so my fear is that staying longer will actually reduce my gpa because I'll get burned out over time.

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cotiger
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Re: Graduate Early or Study Abroad?

Postby cotiger » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:52 am

camcam wrote:Thanks for the great advice!

I probably should've added this earlier, but I have a full ride, so COA isn't an issue. If anything, I'm losing ~$20K in scholarship money if I graduate early. I know that makes me look stupid for wanting to graduate early when there's nothing stopping me from staying, but I guess I'm a bit anxious to finish this entire process.

It seems like the consensus is to stay and build up my GPA. Is it worth taking CC classes over the summer to get in a few more easy classes? The reason my LSAC score is higher than my university GPA is because I've taken 3 classes in CC over the past 2 summers and gotten As that don't transfer over to my university GPA. I had a pretty good freshman year GPA-wise, so my fear is that staying longer will actually reduce my gpa because I'll get burned out over time.


You're overthinking this. Free college! Jesus, stay. Or if you really hate it, leave. Please don't stress over minuscule changes in GPA, or let that drive your decision-making process.

And definitely don't be "anxious to finish this entire process" just so that you can jump into the next three years of school right away. Breathe a little. Go to Japan. Take a year off of school. Everything will still be there when you're ready.




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