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Taking Time Off Before Law School

In the last four months, I have been to three volcanoes, five rainforests, seven beaches and a white-water river. I have almost been mugged, watched a turtle lay its eggs on the beach in the middle of the night (sort of like a majestic bowel movement) and visited one of the world’s largest collections of jade. I’ve cooked vegetables whose names I can’t pronounce and found a dead spider outside my apartment the other day that was at least three inches in diameter. About the only thing I haven’t done is to attend law school. And I couldn’t be happier.

A couple years ago, I decided that I wanted to teach English in Chile for a year after graduation. Like all sophomores, my ideas were often influenced by outside stimuli (exhaustion, alcohol, exaggerating to impress girls) and generally didn’t last for longer than a week or two, so even I didn’t take myself too seriously. However, in my senior year, I began to really consider the idea of going abroad and not head straight into law school. For various reasons, I had never had a chance to do a semester abroad during college. I had always wanted to perfect my Spanish and felt that taking off a year was my golden opportunity.

There was also another factor that heavily influenced my decision—I was not ready to go to law school. It was not an issue of preparedness; I had a good GPA and LSAT score and all my letters of recommendation lined up (although in typical fashion two of the three have yet to send theirs in). For me, the desire and drive that one needs to succeed in law school just weren’t there. After 17 years straight of schooling, I was getting good grades because I had to, not because I really cared about the classes. I don’t want to go to law school just to go to through the motions. I don’t even want to go when I feel I could be ready. I want to go when I feel truly passionate about going.

A lot of people think time off means that you don’t know what you want to do with your life, but I see it from a different angle. I know exactly what I want to do and because of that, I’m abroad. I chose a study program that sent me to San José, Costa Rica until this December. My Spanish is improving and I am having the time of my life. Last week, after finally finishing my personal statement, the last thing I needed to do for my applications, I decided to take one more year off before going to law school in the fall of 2011. I’m looking at interesting jobs, fulfilling internships or teaching English in South America. I know when I go to law school I will be fresh, excited and ready. I get closer to being there every day.

Nick is a former Blueprint student currently avoiding all responsibility in San José, Costa Rica.