Summer internships and jobs are not the only way for college students to use their summer break to better position themselves to apply to law school. Taking classes can also be a good use of the relaxed summer months.
Whether you stay on campus or study at another institution, here are four ways that summer classes can give your law school applications a boost:
— Improve your transcript.
— Get a recommendation letter from a professor.
— Accelerate your graduation.
— Explore new interests.
Improve Your Transcript
It can be easier to perform well in summer classes, when you are not juggling a full course load or the distractions of the school year.
Accordingly, a great reason to take summer classes is to lift your GPA. If you anticipate that your grades will be a weak point in your application, taking extra classes over the summer can give you more opportunities to earn high grades that raise your GPA.
[Read: What Is a Good College GPA for a Law School Applicant?]
Since law schools will see your full transcript, make sure the courses you take are serious and rigorous. Even if they do not concern legal topics, consider classes that exercise related skills like research and communication.
If you take summer classes outside of your home institution, make sure to submit those transcripts to the Law School Admission Council, known as the LSAC, when you are getting ready to apply. Transcripts can take some time to process, so request them a few weeks in advance of your application to minimize delays.
Applicants are expected to submit transcripts from every institution of higher learning attended through LSAC’s Credential Assembly Service, except for study abroad programs that have grades listed on the transcript of their home institution. This applies even to classes that are not taken for credit.
Note that if you attend multiple institutions, LSAC will provide a GPA for each institution on your transcript report, along with a cumulative GPA and a breakdown by school year.
Get a Recommendation Letter From a Professor
Since many professors are less busy over the summer, summer classes can pose a great opportunity to secure a strong academic recommendation letter.
Summer courses are often condensed into an accelerated schedule, so be sure to keep up with assigned homework and to show up ready for each class and prepared to engage in the material.
[Related:Law School Applicants: Don’t Write Your Letters of Recommendation]
Go beyond the course requirements. Talk to professors before and after class, visit during office hours, ask about research opportunities or extra credit assignments.
Wait until you receive your final grade before requesting the recommendation. That way, you can highlight your success in the class when requesting the letter. Even after the summer ends, continue to nurture your relationship with the professor before applying.
Accelerate Your Graduation
Most full-time law school programs start in the fall and firmly require incoming students to have completed their undergraduate degree beforehand. If you’re concerned about whether you will have enough credits to graduate on schedule, summer classes can be essential to catch up.
Summer classes may even allow you to graduate early, so that you can start law school earlier or take a gap year to acquire more work experience before you matriculate.
Explore New Interests
Besides their practical uses, summer classes can also serve a higher-level purpose for aspiring lawyers. Lawyers tend to be generalists who benefit from knowledge across a wide range of domains. Taking advanced summer classes within your major, or even survey courses in a subject you are less familiar with, can help you narrow down your postgraduate career goals.
[Related:How to Choose a Law School Specialization]
You never know when a low-stakes summer class may lead you to make intellectual connections that lead you to new fields of interest.
Ultimately, law school applicants should weigh the benefits of summer classes against competing goals for the summer, from earning money to studying for the LSAT. While valuable for some applicants, summer classes are just one of many options to make the most of summer break.
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How Summer Courses Can Strengthen Your Law School Candidacy originally appeared on usnews.com