More Students Working Before Applying For Law School
Fewer students are going to law school straight from college.
According to a report by The Daily Pennsylvanian, a majority of students at Penn Law, Harvard Law, and New York University School of Law spend one to two years working after college prior to attending law school.
“In recent years we’ve seen an uptick in applicants who do not enroll immediately following the completion of their undergraduate degree,” Renee Post, associate dean of admissions and financial aid at Penn Law, tells The Daily Pennsylvanian. “This year, for example, 75 percent of our first-year class did not enroll directly from undergrad, which directly correlates to the percentage of applicants in our pool last cycle who have been out of undergrad for at least one year.”
A Recent Trend
In recent application cycles, admissions officers have noted that students are increasingly taking time off prior to starting their law education.
“This is a somewhat recent trend,” Mia Carpiniello, career services associate director of graduate and professional school advising at UPenn, tells The Daily Pennsylvanian. “But, for several years we have seen the majority of our applicants taking time before starting law school.”
At Harvard, nearly 82% of all current first-year law students spend at least one year working before law school.
“When I was a 1L, my class was almost 60 percent straight from college,” Kristi L. Jobson, assistant dean for admissions and chief admissions officer at Harvard Law School, says in an interview with the Harvard Crimson. “It’s almost a flip of what it used to be.”
New York University also sees more students taking time off before applying to law school. Nearly 77% of its first-year law students have spent one or more years working before enrolling in law school. 16% even spend five or more years out of school before their law education.
An Emphasis On Real World Experience
The trend highlights a key shift in admissions criteria for law school.
At Harvard, Jobson says the law school admissions places more emphasis on real-world experience when looking at applications.
At Penn Law, while work experience isn’t given a higher weight than other aspects of the application, an increased number of applicants are applying with prior work experience.
“Penn Law’s Admissions Committee considers numerous factors in the admissions process, including a student’s academic record, course selection and grade trends, standardized test score, letters of recommendation, leadership, community service, extracurricular activities, professional and life experiences, and the applicant’s examples of written expression (standardized test writing sample, personal statement, and optional essays),” Post tells The Daily Pennsylvanian.