Tuesday, October 1, 2013
As I imagine is the case in most law schools, our orientation at South Carolina is absolutely packed. This year, I only had 20 minutes to speak, where in years past I might have had an hour or two. I used to try to cram in as much as I could -- from time management to study groups to stress to exam writing -- but this year there was no way I could do so. Consequently, I took a different approach and focused on the Top Eight Regrets of Students Who Did Poorly in Their First Semester (I am a huge fan of listicles -- I'll read anything if the title has "Top" followed by some number -- considering the success of Buzzfeed and Cracked, I have the feeling many of our students feel the same way).
Over the years, I've asked poor-performing students what they wished they had done differently, and this is the list I got:
1. Didn't attend tutoring or Academic Success Workshops.
2. Didn't have or stick to a strict study schedule (treat law school like a job).
3. Didn't outline until the very end of the semester (or relied on other students' outlines).
4. Didn't meet with their professors.
5. Treated law school like undergrad.
6. Let Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing get away from them.
7. Spent all of their time reading and preparing for class -- did not do practice questions, work on oultines, or meet with study groups.
8. Let law school stress overwhelm them.
I focused on this list in Orientation, and as the semester has progressed, students have repeatedly mentioned one or another of the points (either in tutoring or Workshops or during individual meetings). A presentation structure and focus borne out of basic necessity seems to have lodged itself in the minds of the student body in a way that a broader presentation did not, and I think it has had a direct effect on the large amount of student traffic the Academic Success Program has had. Even though the semester has been going for several weeks now, I'm thinking about sending it around again, just to remind them. (Alex Ruskell)