Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, October 26, 2007


"Common sense is instinct, and enough of it is genius."

— Josh Billings. American comedian (1818-1885)

(This quote appeared as the "quote of the day" on my g-mail today.)

This is the magic key to good law school grades, isn't it?

Those who seem to lack common sense seem to comprise much of the lower half of the class. Okay, lower quarter. (With notable exceptions in both the top and bottom halves/quarters.)

That's why the Academic Support person doesn't know very many of the people in the top half of the class ... nor, frankly, do the other problem-solvers (example: Deans of Students).

The only times AcSup professionals and DOS's seem to encounter the students with the very good grades are at the CALI award functions, the Honors functions at the Dean's house, and other academically rich events. These students seem to have/use enough common sense to solve their own problems.

Can common sense be "taught"?  Probably not.  But if you start from the premise that we all have it, but some among us are in the habit of using it (while others are not), then the use of it can be encouraged.  Isn't that what we do?  We encourage students to follow their instincts (that they (a) may not be aware of, or (b) may not be in the habit of following [think, "study habits"]) ... and then we add some nuts and bolts to give them the equipment to use.

"...enough of it is genius...." I like that.  It sure rings true in law school.  Haven't you worked with students who don't give you the impression that they have the highest I.Q. in the class (I know, that's an old concept) but do exactly the right things to earn high grades and succeed?  That's "genius" in my estimation ... taking what you have, applying instinct ... good old common sense (which often includes picking up the essential study tips and exam-answering methods from Academic Support professionals or the many manuals available) ... and focusing on what needs to be done to obtain the objective.

I have watched many students do just that.  Whether they're MENSA material or not (qualifying scores: LINK), they're genii in my estimation!  (djt)

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