A “gap year” is a year (or more) between finishing your undergraduate degree and beginning law school. Typically, students take a gap year for one of a few reasons: financial considerations, retaking the LSAT, or determining whether law school is the correct choice. Beginning law school is a huge commitment so it is understandable that a student may just want some time off as well.
Whatever your reason is for considering taking a gap year, you should not worry that you will be left behind or that you will be the oldest person in school if and when you decide to return. The average age of 1Ls has been increasing across the board. Many schools look at work experience as an asset to an application. The average age of 1Ls at Northwestern Law School is 25. The Harvard Crimson recently wrote an article about Harvard Law School’s preference for students who have gained real world experience after college. Taking a gap year may soon be the new normal.
Some students are worried that taking a gap year will put them at a disadvantage academically. As if taking some time off may inhibit their ability to retain information or to study like they had in the past. This fear is overblown. Working actually makes studying more manageable. Many students who have worked before law school find that the work is not as demanding because they know how to manage their time more effectively.
Obviously, taking a gap year is not for everyone. Students who go straight through have also been very successful. No approach is better, but one may a better fit for some individuals. Transfer students, for example, may be stressed about trying to send in applications after only a couple of semesters under their belts at their new school. Perhaps a gap year would be a great way to spread the work out over a more manageable period of time. For more information on navigating the application cycle for transfer students, check out our video on the topic.
If you think taking a gap year may be right for you, please join us this coming Tuesday, April 12 in 1092 Lincoln Hall from 4:00 – 5:00 pm for “Making the Most of Your Gap Year (or Two).” We will have a current 3L and a 2014 graduate of the College of Law, who each worked 3+ years before attending law school, speaking about the advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year. Bring your questions and we look forward to seeing you there!