You know you want to go to law school. I mean you’ve probably been spending lots of time focusing on your future in law school – either by thinking about it, researching it, or talking to others about it. But the thing is, even though you know you want to go to law school, you aren’t quite sure if you should go to law school directly after undergrad. In some ways it’s tempting to go directly so you stay in the “student mode” without interrupting your current pace of life. Yet in other ways you think it could be valuable to be out in the real world for a little while during a gap year before law school.
While there are certainly pros and cons to taking a gap year or going directly to law school, right now we’re going to focus on what you can do during a gap year before law school.
The possibilities can actually be endless, which for a dreamer like me is pretty darn awesome! But with tons of options, narrowing down a plan be a bit tricky.
There are two types of law school gap years. One that includes studying for the LSAT (which is a total beast). And another that includes working, traveling, or consuming your time with anything other than studying. I suppose there’s actually a third option of doing a one year grad program, but for the purpose of this article we’ll stick with the two main types listed above.
Studying For the LSAT During a Gap Year Before Law School
If you’re currently in college and are trying to decide whether you need to study for the LSAT now (while maintaining your GPA and participating in meaningful activities), know that you have another option. A gap year is a great time to study for the LSAT. While some people take the LSAT before their gap year, there are others who would prefer to lessen their stress levels by intentionally taking a year off to study for the LSAT. This gives them more time to work on their law school applications.
My biggest piece of advice for those who want to take a gap year to study for the LSAT: have a plan! Going from the structure of college where you have set class times and deadlines to a free year to study can be dangerous for those who aren’t very self-motivated. This is where you need to know your tendencies. If an excess of mental whitespace leads you to waste time, get some accountability by taking an LSAT prep course. Create an ideal study schedule and hold to it.
Depending on your needs and resources, you can use this time to save a little money for law school by working part-time. Be careful to keep your priorities in line and focus on that LSAT prep.
4 Questions to Consider for Other Gap Year Options
1. What excites you?
Real talk: life is short. Your twenties are not years to be wasted. If you’d like to take a year off before going to law school, it could be beneficial to do something that is exciting.
Think about what energizes you. This is the time to start dreaming. Even if you aren’t sure if it would be possible to swing it financially, make a list of the things you think would be awesome to do. These can be huge or regular-sized dreams. Just think outside the norm for a bit here.
Some ideas to help spur your creativity:
1. Learn to tango in South America
2. Volunteer with an inner city youth program
3. Work on a political campaign
4. Backpack around Europe or Southeast Asia
5. Teach English in Korea
6. Become scuba certified
7. Live and work in a national park
8. Take a road trip around the U.S.
9. Bartend in a hostel in Australia
10. Be a ski instructor at a Colorado resort
These ideas are merely for the sake of inspiration. There are hundreds and thousands of other things you could do during your gap year. Let your creativity be expressed in what you think sounds fun.
2. What is financially feasible?
Now this is where reality might set in a little bit. I for one completely understand having big dreams but a small wallet. Think through what might actually be feasible given your finances. Come up with ideas for how you could make it work given your resources and what money you could make during the gap year.
3. Could you make money while out on your adventure?
In a lot of these scenarios there are opportunities for you to earn an income, even if it is small. Don’t let your first reaction to question #2 stop you in your tracks. Think through how it might be possible to make money to support yourself during a gap year. One of the most popular ways to earn an income while traveling is by teaching English. You can get jobs in Asia that include long breaks to use for traveling. A lot of people who teach abroad earn enough to live comfortably, travel often, and save some money to take home.
4. Is there something you like that would also look good on your law school resume?
If you have read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I’m not all about doing things for the sake of resume building. In my book, authenticity trumps resume building every time. But for the sake of continuing to pursue a future as a law student, it’s helpful to consider what might benefit you in the future. Does any gap year option align with what’s already shown on your law school application materials? You can use this time to further pursue the things you already care about, but on a deeper level. You may not have had the time to deeply pursue what mattered to you in undergrad.
I hope these tips for how to spend your gap year before law school help inspire you to pursue your passions. It’s possible to use your gap year for your benefit before you dive deep into the pressures of being a law student. There’s no single gap year plan that is right for everyone. Remember to do what’s right for you.
Now I’m curious: How are you thinking of spending your gap year? Let us know in the comments below!