This week we once again welcome 3L student Grace Williams. Check out her mid-semester advice:
Even though most of my classes don’t have midterms, midterm season is when I start to get pretty stressed. My 1L year, I applied for a job outside of law because I was concerned I’d made a huge mistake. Luckily that experience gave me the confidence boost to keep going and I’ve realized that there are some important things that I need to do each semester during the midterm season to stay sane.
1. Intentionally Plan for the Season Change
The Oklahoma weather is weird. I feel like my clothes are always overflowing everywhere and it’s hard to figure out business professional outfits that are easy to layer for the constantly changing temperature. Plus, if you have any evening classes, it feels like you never see the sun. Be gentle with yourself as you make seasonal adjustments. You may need to adjust your schedule so that you get up early in the morning to study with the light instead of the evenings. Every little thing feels difficult in law school and something that may have felt natural in the past can easily become a source of stress.
2. Start planning for Finals
At this point in the semester, you know what you’ve slacked on and what you know well. Hopefully, you have started the outlining process but if you haven’t, you still have a good amount of time to get working. This is the time to start checking out study aids to read up on the areas where you are weak and can benefit from another perspective. Evaluate what other study tools you are going to want. I like using flash cards so I start making those each time I am caught up on outlining on the weekend. Sometimes I supplement my outline with charts and graphs on certain topics. It’s time to decide and make those extra things on the subjects you have covered. I always have a goal to finish my outlines by the beginning of Thanksgiving break (which really turns out to be the end of Thanksgiving break) and then the first two days of finals, I finish my other aids. I recommend going to talk with your professor during office hours about an area of law that you are confused about now rather than toward finals time.
3. Keep up with your emails and calendar
Keeping up with emails and a calendar is an essential skill for an attorney yet so many students complain that they don’t know about information that has been shared via email. This time of year, it seems especially daunting to keep up with everything that is going on but it is such an important time to strengthen your system or start using one. The easiest way to control email is to delete an email that you don’t need immediately upon receiving it. When you get an email from #religiouslife and you know you are not interested to go to Chapel, delete it immediately. Your deleted email stays in the deleted folder for 30 days so if you change your mind about being interested, you can still search for it and find it.
4. Reconnect with your Law School Why
Whatever excitement was felt about starting law school or a new semester has probably dissipated by now. I feel like a studying and working robot who doesn’t even make very much progress on my ever growing to do list. Remind yourself what your end goal is after law school. Daydream about the many possibilities that await you if you don’t have a specific interest yet. Volunteer for an hour at a Pro Bono site and remember what lawyers actually do. See a client who is being helped by a lawyer.
5. Compartmentalize Law School
Remember that law school isn’t everything and shouldn’t take over everything. Plan a date with yourself or a friend and make a rule that you will not talk about law school. Make a list of all the skills and talents you have that may not shine through in the law school setting. Take an hour to knit or go to a pickup basketball game that you’ve been skipping to help yourself remember who you are.
It’s never too late to start healthy habits and recommitting mid-semester to good habits is essential to staying on track and sane.