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How important is research/field experience for PhD?


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Is it necessary to have completed field school or have done some relevant research for PhD admissions? I want to apply for programs that have a paleoanthropology focus in the 20-21 cycle. The problem is that although I was accepted to a very good paleoanthropology field school this summer, the program ended up canceling due to COVID. I was hoping to get research experience, perhaps a paper, and/or LORs out of this field school that would’ve helped my application immensely. I also don’t have a clear research focus yet since I’ve not been able to participate in any research. The program is supposedly running next year but I don’t think current year acceptances are grandfathered in, so I will most likely have to reapply. This also means that I won’t have any field work experience or research experience in the field until next summer. 

Given the circumstances, should I just wait a year to gain more relevant experiences? What can I do in the meantime to better prepare myself for grad school? Thanks! 

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