Thursday, November 19, 2009
All law students are into exam study mode right now. However, I want to address non-traditional students and specific study issues that they bring to the "crunch time" of the semester.
Unlike many of their colleagues, they are often juggling partners and/or children in the law school mix. If they are attending part-time/evening programs, they are further juggling work deadlines and boss expectations as well. Some of them also add community or family obligations such as care of elderly or ill parents.
Here are some tips to help "non-trads" get more study time:
- Discuss with your family why this period in the semester is so important. Your family may not understand since law school is so foreign to everyone who has not attended - especially if you never disappeared like this during other degree programs.
- Ask for help in trying to find blocks of time when you can have uninterrupted study time.
- Agree on family time that you will participate in to stay connected with "real life": a regular dinner hour or story time before bed might be examples.
- Agree on what chores and other responsibilities will be kept by you and what ones your family can pick up (or what chores can be temporarily jettisoned).
- Go to the law school or some other location to study so that family knows that when you are home you are available.
- One family had a red light-green light system for the study/office door. If the law student could not be interrupted, the red light signaled that status. The green light meant short interruptions were okay.
- Post your study schedule on the refrigerator to let everyone know when you will be studying and when there will be down time.
- Consider what chores can be jettisoned or trimmed (example, an extreme clean may not happen each week).
- Consider whether separate home-cooked meals every night can be replaced with crock-pot-cooked meals on the weekend that are frozen and recycled over several weeks.
- Consider whether some activities can be trimmed down a bit in time so that extra half-hour slots can be accumulated into a larger study block during the day (example, meal time, bath time, story time).
- Decide whether you are using time between classes during the day to greatest advantage so that you can shift some studying prior to when your children arrive home.
- Decide whether set meal, nap, bath, and bed times would help both you and your children have a better routine.
- Can you take vacation or personal days to gain more study time?
- Can you work on flex-time so that you shift your hours for several weeks to allow more study time?
- Will your boss agree to your studying at the office if your job duties are slow?
- Can you swap duties/deadlines for the next several weeks with other co-workers in return for repaying the favor later?
- Are there projects or tasks that can be delayed until after exams?
Non-trads have some special responsibilities that can be managed within the exigencies of law school with some extra planning. Fortunately, most of them have fairly good time and work management skills from their jobs and family duties. However, communication with loved ones and work colleagues goes a long way in making the transition to law school studying a smooth one. (Amy Jarmon)