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Should I take the summer off or start 1L early?

J. TharpJ. Tharp Alum Member
edited December 2016 in General 575 karma

Unless I just totally bombed the Dec LSAT, I will be attending the University of Oklahoma School of Law next year. OU has a "1LS" summer program where you can get one 1L class out of the way and have 1 fewer class to take during the regular 1L semester. I've been planning on taking advantage of this program because I'm hoping to be in the top of my class so that I can possibly transfer to another school, or at least get a full ride from OU. However, I'm hesitant because 1LS classes begin just 10 days after my undergrad finals...not much of a break. Then, 1L classes begin just under 20 days after 1LS finals.

My other option is to take the summer off, work, save money, relax and do "0L Prep" (in the manner of this famous TLS user's advice: On the surface, I like this plan better. I just wonder if it would be better to participate in the summer program so that I will have one fewer class in the hopes to transfer are dependent on me being in the top of my class or at least in the top 5%.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

(FYI I'm not going to OU because my GPA or scores are low...I'm participating in an "early entry" program where I get to begin 1L a year early and forgo my undergrad "free elective" requirements)


  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited December 2016 23929 karma
    @"J. Tharp" said:
    my hopes to transfer are dependent on me being in the top of my class or at least in the top 5%.
    *Disclaimer* I am a 0L and everything I know is from books, websites, anecdotes, etc.

    I'd recommend doing the summer program. If your hopes are to be in the top 5 percent, you'd almost be foolish not to. 1L is a stressful year and everyone wants to be in the top 5% and they are going to be competitive and try. The law school will be filled with your intellectual equals, all vying for a place in the top of the class. If you can somehow have one less class to prep for and have a final for, it might really be worth it. It will also give you a leg up on what to expect during fall semester 1L when no one else knows shit from shinola.

    On the other hand, not having your last summer ever sucks. But if your ultimate goal is to be at the top of the class, I can't think of a better advantage than this summer program!

    Good luck :)
  • bbutlerbbutler Inactive ⭐
    401 karma
    After thinking about this for a few minutes I'm honestly really torn about this. On the surface I agree with @"Alex Divine" that it's a great program for you given your aspirations and any advantage you can use to make 1L easier is definitely nothing to take lightly. Being able to get acclimated and "ease into" Law School is appealing.

    However, my only caution to you would be burnout. I don't worry about it at the beginning because adrenaline will get you through the first couple weeks and probably through all of the Summer Program, it's really when the actual 1L starts that I would be concerned. That's 3 straight semesters of 1L and it can take a toll on people, especially with the mounting stress of trying to be in the top 5%. It's really a double edge sword but it sounds like you have an amazing opportunity either way!

  • alex.e92alex.e92 Alum Member
    239 karma
    **Another huge disclaimer because this is mostly speculation: but do you know how many people typically go for this option/what they advertise the advantages as being? If, for example, the 1LS classes are small and full of the same kind of people with similar goals all gunning for the top X% of the class then it is possible that the curve in such classes might be more difficult than a regular 1L class. If the curve is more difficult due to the type of people who self select into the 1LS program that *could* defeat the purpose. But again, this all depends on how the classes are graded and who takes them and why, none of which I know. So just something incredibly minor to consider.

    Best of luck!
  • bbutlerbbutler Inactive ⭐
    401 karma
    @AlexandriaD the biggest advantage is getting acclimated early. Getting to know a group of people, establish a study group, and have a little bit more understanding ahead of the 1L's that normally come in. The theory is that if you can "learn law school" before the rest of the 1L class gets there then you and the people in the summer can set the curve. The problem is that I haven't seen any definitive statistics that support that people in those programs do significantly better in law school, doesn't mean they're not out there I just haven't seen it. But that's basically how they advertise it. A lot of times if people wait out a cycle and apply early to a future cycle then they would be able to start in the summer or the second half of the summer, I know Michigan does it and there are some others as well.

    Hope this helps! :)
  • alex.e92alex.e92 Alum Member
    edited December 2016 239 karma
    @bbutler ahh, I see. That's interesting, thanks!

    Then maybe my comment does not apply. Another thing to not discount is money. Law school is already expensive, 3 1L semesters must be more expensive than 2, and if there are currently no data to support improvements in performance for students who choose to take 1LS classes then I would think twice about it especially since it sounds like OP is already leaning towards not doing so anyway.
  • bbutlerbbutler Inactive ⭐
    401 karma
    @AlexandriaD no problem glad to help!

    The problem is that what happens if you don't do well in that semester? I know no one wants to think that way but if you get a B+ for that class then now your GPA is already lower then what you want it to be and will that put extra stress on you in your first 1L semester. The costs in my mind aren't the important thing especially if you transfer or have the high GPA. I know I for one would trade $5k-$10k to be in the top 10-15% of my 1L class!
  • J. TharpJ. Tharp Alum Member
    575 karma
    @AlexandriaD It is close to $4k...and I would be losing money by not working. I'm not sure what type of students take advantage of it, but I have a friend who participated and she said it was well worth it and that other students wished they would have done it. But, her family has a practice, so I'm not sure if being in the top of her class is a top goal.
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