By Dennis Hung • December 17, 2018•Law School, Pre-Law, Other Law School Issues
If you’ve worked hard to prepare for law school, the idea of taking a gap year might seem a little crazy. It took all you had to get this far, and if you lose momentum now, how will you ever be prepared for the demanding schedule required by your future school? While it may seem counterintuitive, a break can sometimes be just what you need to refresh your mind and prepare for a rigorous course of study.
Time Off to Explore: Who Said a Break Was a Bad Thing?
According to data from the Associated Press, up to 40,000 students take a break in between various levels of education. In 2015, the number of students taking such breaks increased by 22 percent, possibly because the benefits of a gap year are starting to become more widely known. Although uncommon in America, the practice has been popular in Europe for years. Are there really benefits to taking a full year off, and if so, what are they?
1. You’ll Have Time to Explore
By the time you enter law school, you’ll want to know exactly what you’re doing and why. This includes the areas of law you’d like to specialize in. If you’re still unsure, it makes more sense to take some time off than it does to waste resources repeatedly changing your study focus. During your gap year, you’ll be free to let your mind ponder the various possibilities for your career, and you’ll be more likely to figure out what areas of law you truly feel passionate about. Research has shown that students who take gap years end up much more satisfied with their jobs, so if you ever feel guilty about enjoying your time off, remember that science has your back.
2. You’ll Be Able to Get Real-world Experience
A gap year doesn’t have to be spent lounging on beaches or wandering through art galleries in foreign countries. You can also use your time away from school to take on a part-time job or internship with a law firm. Working in a real law firm for a year can expose you to the day-to-day realities you’ll face if you choose that type of legal work.
3. You’ll Be Able to Have Some Fun
If you do want to travel and lounge on beaches, there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Travel can expose you to different cultures and lifestyles, and you might have some life-changing experiences that help show you the type of law you’d like to practice. For instance, a few weeks backpacking in the beauty of the Amazon Rainforest could inspire you to go into environmental law.
4. You’ll Be Able to Better Prepare
Paying for law school isn’t always easy, and if you’re low on funds after completing your undergraduate degree, you might want to spend a gap year researching the various options that could assist you.
You’ll also have more time to prepare your applications for schools and study for your LSAT exam. Students who don’t take any time off in between degrees end up attempting to balance their LSAT prep with their senior coursework, which can make for a very stressful year. Taking some time off will allow you to work on your applications and test prep at a more leisurely pace.
5. You’ll Recover from Burnout
Earning your four-year degree is a huge accomplishment. You’ve just completed years of hard work, and it’s normal to feel a little burned out. Rather than starting graduate school when you don’t feel ready, give yourself some time to relax and recover.
You have a lot ahead of you as a law student, but as long as you maintain a healthy balance and remain committed to accomplishing your educational goals, you’ll be sure to go very far.