Thursday, June 20, 2013
I forgot how emotionally-draining, financially-challenging, and logistically complicated it is to move from one location to another. After four-and-a-half wonderful years, I am getting ready to leave UConn to join the faculty at UMass on July 1. I am very excited about the new job. However, the last two weeks (and the next two weeks) of my life have been consumed with the details of moving my life from CT to MA. These issues led me to reflect on the issues our students face when they start law school.
Many law students move long distances to start law school. For a student who comes from a family with the financial means to hire movers and take look-see trips for apartments, this is an arduous process. Just coordinating dates and times is challenging; apartment complexes either fill up very early (in college towns) or apartment managers do not know vacancies until the last minute (rural and suburban areas, law school detached from larger universities). Apartments that are beautifully photographed can be in terrible neighborhoods, or have serious issues. Look-see trips are very helpful when sorting out these problems. But for our students who have to look for apartments while living far away, and need to move their life in a U-Haul truck, this process is incredibly stressful and emotionally-draining. These students usually can't leave their jobs until the last moment, so they are moving, and starting law school, within a one-to-two week period. It doesn't leave much time to adjust to a new area, or relax before the whirlwind of 1L year.
This is something to think about as ASP professionals plan orientation and the start of school. We may not being seeing the best of our students in those early weeks. We may be seeing students still stressed out, exhausted, and not-yet focused on academics. (RCF)
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
If you don't run a bar prep program (in which case, this is your busy season) but you have a 12-month contract, this is an awkward time of the year. You may be savoring a well-earned vacation (but most people put off vacations until later in the summer) or you may be tallying numbers for an annual report or review. But for many people, you have just come from a crazy-busy exam season, and you feel a little at loose ends; there is nothing pressing, but you know there is stuff you should be doing. Here is a quick list of things you can do now to make life less insane later in the summer:
1) Pre-orientation: Get other stakeholders on board so you can advertise the program to students.
2) Orientation: Let students know early when they need to be at the law school.
3) Syllabus planning: The earlier you finish your syllabus, the more time you have to tweak it before the start of classes. It's always helpful to start syllabi early, so you can think about how to teach the material before classes begin.
4) Scheduling workshops: If rooms in your school fill up lightening-fast (they do at UConn), think about scheduling your fall workshops during the early summer months.
5) Meetings with people outside of the law school: This is the ideal time to meet with other educators, practitioners, and professionals. Take the time to reach outside of the confines of your law school.
6) Website: If you have an ASP website, this is the time to take a fresh look at what can be updated, and what should be changed for next year.
7) Reply to all those non-pressing emails: I know I get roughly 25-100 emails a day. On the 100-email days, I sort them into the "right now" category, the "today-but-not-now" category, and the "yes, it needs a response, but not today" category. Unfortunately, the last category sometimes gets neglected entirely, because tomorrow comes, and the next 100 emails arrives in my inbox. This is the time of year to respond to the neglected emails.
Happy summer, folks!