Taking Time "Off" and Deferring

Whether you apply as a senior or five years after leaving Adams, the House will help you with your law school applications. Adams will always be your home, and you can always come back to us for advising and support.

You may be sure that you want to apply now. But if you are unsure about whether you want to go law school, we strongly recommend that you wait. Even if you know that you want to go to law school, there are advantages to taking some time 'off' and doing something else before applying.

But don't take our word for it. Here's what the HLS Admissions Office has to say: "We believe that prospective students benefit from experiences outside of a college or university setting and thus encourage you to take time off before going to law school. You may want to take time off before applying because your experience during that time off may inform your decision to attend graduate school; also, you may be able to put together a more complete application because you have had additional opportunities to write about (and from which to obtain recommendations)." (From the Admissions website.)

This past year, over 3/4 of students admitted into Harvard Law School had been out of college for at least one year. We are seeing that trend across all the top law schools, as admissions officers are looking for an incoming class with a wide range of backgrounds and skill sets. And of course, a demonstrated and concrete interest in the law.

A few more reasons to consider taking time "off" between college and law school:

Your post-college experience may increase your chances of admission at the school of your choice. Admission to the top law schools is extremely competitive, and one way of distinguishing yourself from the pack is to do something valuable after college. For example, you might work in business, teach, work in public service, undertake further study and/or apply for a fellowship.

Your post-college experience will definitely help you when applying for jobs after law school. Law firms, international human rights organizations, and government jobs alike are all looking for people with relevant experience, and even if your experience is completely unrelated, you will have much more interesting stories in a job interview.

You may well be in a better position to decide what you want to do with your life a couple of years after graduating.

Personal circumstances may change, affecting where you want to live, which school you want to attend, and whether you want to go to law school at all.

You may well get more out of law school if you have had some experience in the 'real' world. You may be better equipped to handle the difficulties that law school presents, and have more to contribute in class and in extra-curricular activities.

This may be your last chance to do something really different, like traveling for an extended time, living in a hippie commune, achieving a personal goal.

It is common for people to regret going 'straight through,' but very rare for anyone to regret taking time between college and law school.