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How should I go about applying to schools if I plan to take 1-2 gap years?

in General 10 karma
This has been on my mind a lot lately--I've been studying Mandarin on and off for about 4 years, and recently became quite serious about it. It's rather sad to know that once I go to law school I'll essentially be unable to proceed in my language study to any meaningful degree, so my goal is to apply to a few programs and live in China for at least a year (State Department or teaching most likely).

I'm not really sure if it would be wise for me to send out applications this fall and then request a gap year if accepted (from what I've read, only 5-10 requests are granted per year), or if I should simply wait and apply upon my return. If the latter, is there a way for me to somehow save or store recommendation letters from my current professors? I imagine it would be unwise to take advantage of that resource, especially if forgoing it means resorting to non-native English speakers writing them instead.

If anyone has experience with anything remotely related, I would be very glad to hear your thoughts. :)


  • ddakjikingddakjiking Inactive ⭐
    2116 karma
    I'd get in all your transcripts and any LOR's you have submitted now. Enjoy teaching abroad for a year or so. At some point though you will have to start prepping for the LSAT. You can do that while in china or back home. My friend took a gap year in Korea teaching English to kids while also studying for the LSAT. He got a 168 so it's definitely doable.

    So yeah, don't apply now.
  • 10 karma
    Cheers, thanks for the reply. When you say I should submit all my transcripts/LORs, do you mean I should send those to law schools despite not yet applying? Apologies if that's an uninformed question, not fully certain how applications work. Can schools store application materials for 1+ years?

    I actually just took my first LSAT practice test earlier this week (156--still have work to do!), planning to study all the way up to the October test using 7sage + Testmasters. If I can manage to score well then I can use my time abroad for other stuff. :) If not then certainly studying over there is my backup plan.
  • brna0714brna0714 Alum Inactive ⭐
    1489 karma
    You can upload/submit LORs and transcripts to LSAC's system and they will be stored there. That's also how you'd go about sending them to law schools from what I understand.
  • ddakjikingddakjiking Inactive ⭐
    2116 karma
    Yeah what brna said. You actually upload everything into LSAC. Schools will only receive your scores/transcripts/LOR/PS/etc only when you have paid to send out your applications.
  • 10 karma
    Brilliant, many thanks to both of you!
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Just make sure if you take several years off that your membership with LSAC doesn't expire so you don't lose everything you have on there.
  • africaasiaventure (AV)africaasiaventure (AV) Free Trial Member
    edited July 2015 2 karma
    Hi Nicholas,

    I think what you are thinking of doing is great. A gap year is a brilliant opportunity to do something you are really passionate about - in your case, master Mandarin and spend time in China.

    I don't know about the specific schools you are interested in, but generally in this situation, we highly recommend applying before you take the year(s) out, not least because it enables you to make the most of the time without worrying about applications and where you will be going afterwards. It would also almost certainly be slightly harder to do the applications from overseas as well - even a simple phone call can become a challenge when you are in a different timezone.

    In the US, colleges are becoming more and more encouraging of gap years, as long as you do something meaningful and productive - which you would certainly be doing.

    My recommendation would be to research the individual schools that you are interested in and find out about their specific policies. You can then decide what the best course of action is based on that information. Financial aid may also be relevant as it can change, so do investigate if that would be a factor.

    The links below may have some relevant information - Harvard and Princeton are high profile supporters of gap years and the American Gap Association has some information about other universities and their policies and acceptance rates. Please note, it is not an exhaustive list.

    I hope this information is useful. Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.
    Shona @ Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @"africaasiaventure (AV)" said:
    The links below may have some relevant information - Harvard and Princeton are high profile supporters of gap years and the American Gap Association has some information about other universities and their policies and acceptance rates.
    Hmm, I'm not sure this applies to law school ... ?
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Also, while a few law schools will defer a year with good justification, I've never seen any with provisions for multiple year deferments. Many schools only do it if you have a pre-existing obligation for something you've already been a part of (e.g.- military service) as opposed to a desire to do something else.
  • CallMeJazzyCallMeJazzy Alum Member
    65 karma
    Excellent question, @nicholas.andonie. I'm also planning to take a gap year (two, actually) in Berlin. This has been super helpful.
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