Tuesday, November 12, 2013
You are homesick. Your little brother or dog misses you. You love turkey and stuffing. Your family expects you to participate in a 5-day round of traditional family events. You want to go skiing for the week. You live for Black Friday shopping.
But now you are having second thoughts about making the trek. Can you afford to give up the uninterrupted study time? Will you be able to get any studying done if you go home? Can you go home for a few days but not all of the time?
Be honest with yourself. How prepared are you currently for your exams? What tasks do you still have left to perform to do well on those exams? Are your outlines in good shape? Have you been reviewing regularly? Have you completed lots of practice questions? Do you have any papers or other assignments to complete? The amount of work you have already finished to prepare for exams and the amount of work left are important factors to your decision.
Consider your family circumstances carefully. Some students know that family members will understand the need to study and allow them to do so except for Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family. Perhaps everyone else will be working much of the time except the actual holiday, and the house will bequiet for solid studying. Other students know that family members will mean well but be visibly hurt if the student does not join in all of the preparations and family fun. In some cases, the family members would understand, but the student will have no will power and not study as planned. Will the circumstances allow you to get work done?
Decide whether you can have your turkey and eat it too. Depending on the travel time and expense, you may be able to go home for part of the break and stay in town to study for part of it. Leave later in the week or return earlier so that the break is split into two parts. This strategy works especially well if home is not a great distance away; but it can work even in Texas, where nothing is really close to anything else. If you use the time before you leave efficiently, you can have some concentrated study time completed before your trip. If you come back early, you can focus on exams after some fun.
Use the next 15 days for a big study push. By making the most out of every day before the holiday, it is possible to accomplish a great deal of extra studying. As a result, you will feel better about what studying is left to accomplish over the break. Get on top of all outlines. Carve out time for exam studying from time you would normally waste. Get the most results from your study time instead of passively spending time over the books. Make a to do list for each course. Cut out your 2-3 hour exercise at the gym. Stop taking naps. Turn off the TV. Get off Facebook. Use every minute so that you are pleased with your progress.
Plan your studying before the break starts. Whether you stay or leave, make a plan before the break. You are more likely to meet your study goals if you have mapped out what you want to accomplish each day. If you fly by the seat of your pants each morning, it is too easy to procrastinate and find something to do that is more attractive than studying. Think about the day as having three parts: morning (8 a.m. to noon), afternoon (1 to 5 p.m.), and evening (6 to 10 p.m.). Plan to study at least two of those parts whenever possible. Map out which course and which tasks you will complete in each time block.
Use travel time for studying. Whether you are driving or flying, you can get some studying done. Consider listening to CDs from one of the substantive law series. If travels are with a law school friend, quiz each other with flashcards or discuss practice questions during the trip. Read through your outlines while on a layover in the airport. If your travel time is productive, you will feel less stressed about study time.
Take Thanksgiving Day off if you can do so. Unless you are desperate about your study situation, take off on the actual holiday. At most, study for a few hours early in the morning or late at night while others are asleep. But enjoy the festivities: a meal or football or the Macy's parade. If you are home, be thankful for the day with family. If you are at school, find some other studiers to spend part of the day with on a break from studying. You will feel less resentful and unhappy if you have a holiday. Work hard before and after the holiday so you do not have to feel guilty on the day itself.
Most of all be thankful for all of your blessings. Being in law school is a privilege that most people will never have. Even if it is hard work, you are blessed with a future profession that can have a positive impact on our world. (Amy Jarmon)