March 18, 2006
Improving Basic Study Skills and Breaking Bad Habits
Students are often shocked that their undergraduate study methods fail to serve them well in law school because as undergraduates they found significant success, at least in terms of grades, using those methods. What law school does is expose the flaws in those methods, flaws that actually hindered effective learning in undergraduate school.
Bright students often get away with poor study skills for years because their intellectual strength compensates for what are in reality self-defeating approaches to learning. The study of law is less forgiving than many undergraduate programs, so what worked as compensation for poor studying in undergraduate schools fails students when they are confronted by the rigor and intellectual competition of law school.
Those students need to evaluate their study habits even at basic levels and learn new techniques. You might direct them to Virginia Tech's study skills website for some practical help with basic study skills. Check out the entire site (not everything necessarily transfers directly to the law school environment), but click on the page "Concentration: Some Basic Guidelines" for an example of what it offers; I think your students will find some very useful advice that is as relevant to law students as it is to the undergraduates targeted by the site. (dbw)
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