As we note in our JDP FAQs, not being admitted to HLS through the Junior Deferral Program (JDP) does not negatively impact your chance for admission to HLS in a future year. We actively encourage applicants who are not initially admitted to HLS through JDP to consider reapplying through our regular application cycle. The admissions committee does not view reapplications negatively and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis for all applicants.
In fact, some of the students who were not admitted during our initial JDP pilot reapplied to us after a few years, and some of these students were admitted. These students typically had updated resumes, new letters of recommendation, and reworked personal statements.
If you are considering reapplying to Harvard Law School after applying to the Junior Deferral Program, here are a few thoughts from the admissions committee to help you think through your options.
When to Reapply
Given that the purpose of the Junior Deferral Program is to allow you the opportunity to gain post-undergraduate experience before your 1L year, we expect that most students who reapply from JDP will do so a few years after graduating from college. The admissions committee actively preferences work experience, and taking additional time after senior year to work, volunteer, or engage in graduate study can only serve to strengthen your application even more.
Reapplying Senior Year
Because the program just expanded this past year, we welcome students who applied to JDP last year to reapply as seniors if they now feel compelled to attend law school immediately after college. We understand that the program is still quite new to many prospective applicants, and that your plans might have changed after initially applying to JDP. If you do decide to applying to HLS your senior year after applying to JDP, we strongly encourage you to submit an addenda explaining why you have decided to come to HLS straight from senior year instead of after a few years of work, service, or scholarship.
While we do grant deferrals on a case-by-case basis, we expect students to apply the year they plan to enroll. So, we expect that students applying this cycle will enroll in fall 2019. It is possible to request a one- or two-year deferral after admission through the regular admissions cycle – keep in mind, however, that these deferrals are not guaranteed. We discourage college seniors from applying senior year if they do not intend to come to HLS immediately after completing undergraduate studies.
The decision of if and when to reapply is a very personal one. Again, we strongly encourage students not admitted to JDP to consider reapplying to HLS through our regular application cycle. Keep in mind that you will be applying with a different applicant pool and applying alongside students with several years of work experience, graduate degrees, or volunteer service. Think about how to update and improve your application before reapplying, and consider the benefits of gaining some more experience before doing so.