Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Extension of the AASE Survey Deadline

From the Co-Chairs of the AASE Assessment Committee:

If you are the ASP/Bar Preparation person(s) who is completing the AASE survey for your law school, the new deadline for completion of the survey is 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2018. The contact person(s) at each law school that has not already completed the survey will be receiving notification of the new deadline. 

We realize that the survey is lengthy, but we are gathering more comprehensive data than can be collected in the frequent, ad hoc ASP listserv surveys. After the completion of data analysis, a summary report will provide academic and bar support professionals with the aggregate results. For the first time, you will be able to support your efforts on behalf of students with comprehensive data on trends and best practices.

Your law school’s participation in the survey is vital! Thank you ahead for your time in answering the survey questions. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, at amy.jarmon@ttu.edu or (806) 834-6385. 

Best regards,

Karen M. Harkins, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Amy L. Jarmon, Co-Chair AASE Assessment Committee, Texas Tech School of Law

The AASE Assessment Committee members for 2017-2018 are: Christine Church (WMU-Cooley), Katherine Silver Kelly (Ohio State), Angela Lechleiter (Louisville), Amy Newcombe (Seton Hall), Zoe Niesel (St Mary’s), Heidi Ramos-Zimmerman (Southern Illinois), Preyal Shah (UNT-Dallas), Dena Sobol (Mitchell Hamline), Kathryn Thompson (Roger Williams), Natasha Varyani (Boston University), and Judith Wegner (UNC). The AASE Assessment Committee members for 2016-2017 were: Joe Brennan (Vermont Law School), Katherine Brokaw (Emory), Matthew Carluzzo (Villanova), Michele Cooley (IUPUI), Dorie Evensen (Penn State), Zoe Niesel (St Mary’s), John Tsiforas (Hofstra), and Jane Winn (Washington).

April 19, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Thank You And I Had No Idea You Did All This!

This week marks our last full week of classes. I have my last scheduled meetings with students and say goodbye to many of the 3Ls, as this will be the very last time I will interact with them in this capacity. These final meetings typically signify moments of nostalgia for 3Ls, many of whom did not believe they would make it to this point, completion (almost) of their law degree. I also use this time to wrap-up a number of programs and to thank and bid farewell to the teaching assistants hired through my program. Obviously, this is a week filled with goodbyes even though I will see most of these students throughout the exam period and/or at graduation. It is important to reflect on experiences and the law school journey, to keep things in perspective, and to take stock of accomplishments. Otherwise, students tend to focus on the work rather than the successes achieved over the past few weeks, months, and years. It is also timely for me to reflect on my own experiences of the year.

I remind each 3L that this is our final formal meeting. Some were anticipating this meeting while others were intensely focused on the task at hand and did not even remember. We collectively reminisce our first meeting which typically occurred sometime during their 1L year. We highlight some of the challenges they encountered and overcame, including a few seemingly impossible goals now achieved. I congratulate them on their hard work, determination, and achievements. I wish them further success as they move ahead and remind them that the same hard work and determination can be applied to their preparation to sit for the bar exam. The students thank me for the help throughout the years that enabled them to tackle various tasks. Usually, the students do not appear emotional at this time but some do at commencement.

I recently sat down with one of my TA’s during our weekly session and realized again that despite sharing information, through multiple mediums, about all of the services and programs my office offers, students only focus on what they need at the moment and forget or overlook everything else. This TA is well aware of the teaching assistant program because she used it as a 1L and became a TA but she was unaware of many other programs despite the fact that we went over this information during TA orientation. This semester, this TA helped me critique student essays so we interact weekly to discuss student progress, upcoming assignments, and general concerns. I was behind responding to a few of her email messages so we discussed the content in person. Whenever we discuss the program or event that captured my attention this or that week, she always says: “I had no idea you did X.” or “That is an amazing resource for students.” or “Your office does so much.” She then asks additional questions and I always smile. If anything, this reinforces a fundamental reason why I need student support, students get to know me and they provide free advertising for my office to other students.

All the very best to the 3Ls on the last lap of their law school experience and thank you to all of the teaching assistants who help academic support professionals maximize their reach. (Goldie Pritchard)

 

image from media.giphy.com

April 18, 2018 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 31, 2018

SXSWedu Talk on Digital Distractions

This video highlight from The Chronicle of Higher Education focuses on a SXSWedu talk by Manoush Zomorodi and JP Connolly discussing the many students who are distracted by their smartphones, tablets, etc. Unfortunately it is just a clip; I have not yet found a link for the entire talk. It touches on the power of boredom, the endlessness of scrolling, streaks, and disruption of focus. The statistics (from research by Gloria Mark) regarding the impact of interruptions and self-interruptions on brain focus are useful for students to know (begins at 11:29 for those of you who want to scroll there without watching the entire clip). The link is: Digital Distractions. (Amy Jarmon)

March 31, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Path to Law Student Well-Being

Hat tip to David Jaffe, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at American University Washington College of Law, for his listserv post regarding The Path to Law Student Well-Being. Part of the information from his post is included here:

". . . a new podcast series, The Path to Law Student Well-Being, sponsored by the Law School Assistance Committee to the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs (CoLAP). 

The inaugural two-part episode is available here, just below the live Twitter Town Hall taking place this [past] Wednesday [March 28th].

This episode features two short conversations with Dean & Professor of Law Michael Hunter Schwartz of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law and Professor Larry Krieger of the Florida State University College of Law and is moderated by Professor Susan Wawrose of the University of Dayton School of Law.

  • In the first part of this episode, Dean Schwartz and Professor Krieger suggest ways individual faculty members can notice, engage with, and support students they suspect are in distress.
  • The second part identifies steps faculty can take to promote student well-being through their teaching in the classroom and includes simple actions for law school administrators.

The podcast series is a response to the call for action in the 2017 National Task Force Report The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change, which was sent to all law schools last fall and sets out specific action items for the legal community, including some specific steps for judges, regulators, employers, bar associations, lawyer assistance programs, and law schools."

 

March 30, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Academic Advising Worksheets

Many of us are intimately familiar with ABA Standard 309(b), which requires a law school to "provide academic support designed to afford students a reasonable opportunity to complete the program of legal education, graduate, and become members of the legal profession."  But, today, I'd like to focus on subsection "(a)."  Standard 309(a) states that a "law school shall provide academic advising for students that communicates effectively the school’s academic standards and graduation requirements, and that provides guidance on course selection."

Typically, first-year students have little (or no) say in what courses they will take.  Upper-level students, on the other hand, have many different--and sometimes competing--options available to them.  The vast number of different course combinations can be overwhelming to even the most organized law students.  Here are a few tips to help rising 2Ls and 3Ls register for upper-level courses.

Step one: check the law school's website or academic handbook for advising information.  Virtually every law school's website boasts an academic advising section.  For example, the University of California at Irvine's academic advising website offers some good suggestions for course selection:

  • Take the classes that interest you the most.
  • Take classes from professors you would like to study with, even if the subject matter is not one you think will appeal to you. There are practice fields you have not considered that will actually capture your interest.
  • Take classes from professors you enjoyed and whose teaching style matches your learning style.
  • Take classes that will give you a strong foundation in the practice field you intend to enter.
  • Take a class in an area of law that interests you, even if you never intend to practice in that field.
  • Takes classes with a mix of different methods of evaluation (e.g., exams, papers, in-class exercises).
  • Take a mix of skills and doctrinal courses.
  • Take a broad range of classes. Life is unpredictable. You may discover you do not enjoy the work you do, or business in your practice area may dry up. Choose courses that will expose you to various methodological approaches to the law and that prepare you to be a well-rounded lawyer able to take advantage of opportunities as they appear.

NYU Law's website echoes these same recommendations.  You may also want to consult Professor Jarmon's 2013 "Academic Advising and Registration" blogpost for some additional helpful tips.

Step two: make a list of all the academic requirements needed for graduation.  Check for specific course requirements, minimum/maximum credit limitations both at the semester level and cumulatively, writing or seminar requirements, and concentration requirements.  Put all of that information on a single sheet of paper.   You are welcome to Download Graduation Requirements Checklist that I use at my school and then make adjustments to the document to reflect your school's requirements. 

Step three: create a two-year plan.  Frequently, elective courses are offered during either the fall semester or the spring semester, but not both.  And, some specialty elective courses are only taught once every two years, meaning students will only have one opportunity during their upper-level to enroll in the course. Therefore, it is critical to know when, and how often a course will be offered.  Once you know which courses are offered when, chart them out.  It may feel like a complicated LSAT logic game (e.g. you can't take Wealth Transfers the same semester you that take Family Law), but it's worth the effort.  Again, you are invited to Download 3-Year Course Sequence Planning Worksheet to get the process started.

Step four: take draft versions of your worksheets to your academic advisor and academic support professor for approval.  Once you get the thumbs-up from your academic advisor about the mechanics, turn your attention to the bigger picture - goal setting.  For more information on what that conversation should look like, read Professor Jarmon's 2015 blogpost entitled "The Missing Piece: Academic Advising."  Finally, stop by your Academic Support Professor's Office for some deeper insights.  They are always full of helpful information, especially as it relates to your current academic achievement and future academic goals.  After all, there is a reason that ABA Standard 309 includes academic advising in part (a) and academic support in part (b) of the same rule!  (Kirsha Trychta)

March 20, 2018 in Advice, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Are you feeling drained?

Midterms, paper drafts, quizzes, and more are coming fast and furious at law students right now. My students are looking exhausted, glazed, and numb this week. Next week is another heavy deadline week for many students.

Faculty and staff are also looking a bit frayed around the edges with grading, make-up classes, project deadlines, committee meetings, and paperwork. Next week is more of the same.

But then . . . IT WILL BE SPRING BREAK!!!! That week without classes is looking a lot like an oasis in the desert. Faculty are off for the entire break, of course; staff have the last two days of the week off.

Everyone is hanging on.

Here are some tips for all of us to keep motivation and productivity up for next week's final push:

  • Avoid expecting perfection. Do the best you can under the circumstances each day and move on without regrets.
  • If you cannot do it all juggling school, work, home - delegate. People who care about you are there to help.
  • Prioritize your "to do" list so that your energies go to the most important tasks rather than being scattered and ineffective.
  • If you need to, ask for help to stay positive and productive. Recruit a personal cheerleader as necessary.
  • Make a list of two or three fun things to do over spring break with family or friends.
  • At the end of each day, be thankful for three things - no matter how small.
  • Rejuvenate yourself with some pampering to counterbalance low energy: a special meal, a massage, an early bedtime, chocolate - you get the idea.
  • Take a few minutes each day for meditation, relaxation exercises, soothing music, or inspirational readings.
  • Laugh: at yourself, at life, at law school. Instead of chuckles, go for belly laughs!

A respite is in sight. You may not be able to play throughout the entire Spring Break, but you will be able to have more flexibility in your time. (Amy Jarmon)

March 3, 2018 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Reminder: Instructions for the ASP Listserv

ASP-L Listserv General Instructions

 

Subscribing for the first time:

  1. Be sure you are sending this email from the address you want to use for your subscription.
  2. Open an email to listproc@chicagokent.kentlaw.edu .
    1. Please note that this is NOT the address you use to send an email through the listserv. This is a special email address for subscribing and unsubscribing.
  3. Delete your signature and any other information in the body of the email.
  4. Leave the subject blank.
  5. In the body of the email, type:

SUBSCRIBE ASP-L FirstName LastName JobTitle Employer

  1. This will send a subscription request to the listserv manager, who will approve your request manually. If you do not include your job title or employer, your request may be delayed.

Sending an email to the listserv:

  1. Be sure you are sending this email from the address that is subscribed to the listserv. Non-subscribers cannot send emails through the listserv.
  2. Open an email to asp-l@chicagokent.kentlaw.edu.
  3. Type and send your email as you would normally.

 

Unsubscribing from the listserv:

  1. Be sure you are sending this email from the address that is currently subscribed to the listserv.
    1. NOTE: If you no longer have access to that email address, contact the listserv manager directly to unsubscribe.
  2. Open an email to listproc@chicagokent.kentlaw.edu .
    1. Please note that this is NOT the address you use to send an email through the listserv. This is a special email address for subscribing and unsubscribing.
  3. Delete your signature and any other information in the body of the email.
  4. Leave the subject blank.
  5. In the body of the email, type:

UNSUBSCRIBE ASP-L

  1. This will automatically unsubscribe your email address from the listserv.

Switching email addresses, when you can still access your original email:

  1. Follow the instructions above to subscribe, using your NEW email address.
  2. Follow the instructions above to unsubscribe, using your OLD email address.

Switching email addresses, when you cannot still access your original email:

  1. Follow the instructions above to subscribe, using your NEW email address.
  2. Send an email directly to the listserv manager (haseltine@gmail.com) and request that your old email be removed. The listserv manager will manually remove your old email address.

If you have questions or difficulties, you may contact the listserv manager directly at jessica.haseltine@gmail.com.

February 24, 2018 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Do you plan and prepare rather than start?

Planning and preparing can be necessary and useful – within reason. However, we sometimes use them as avoidance mechanisms for our difficult study tasks.

Here are some examples law students have shared where they used planning and preparing to avoid working on a more difficult task:

  • Cleaning the house because they cannot study until their environment is spotless.
  • Organizing everything in their study area until everything is perfect for studying: pencils and pens lined up in a row, bookshelves alphabetized, papers for several semesters hole-punched and filed in binders.
  • Continuing to research after everything found just repeats prior sources because “there just might be something else out there.”
  • Making “to-do” lists that run on for pages and cover the entire semester to stall doing today’s immediate tasks.
  • Daydreaming extensively about writing the best paper the professor has ever seen without actually researching for or writing that paper.

You want to plan and prepare. But you want to keep those tasks realistic and not let them become procrastination methods. Here are some tips for more realistic planning and preparing:

  • Set time limits on planning and preparation steps rather than having them be open-ended.
  • Limit daily “to-do” lists to a maximum of 10 tasks.
  • Prioritize your daily “to-do” list into categories (very important, important, least important) and complete tasks in the order of importance.
  • Block off specific times in your weekly schedule to do non-law-school items (chores, errands, grocery shopping, laundry, etc.) so they do not interrupt more important study tasks throughout the week.
  • Ask yourself two questions for each task:
    • Is this the wisest use of my time right now?
    • If so, am I completing the task in a way to get the most effective results in the least amount of time?

If over-planning or over-preparing are difficulties for you, make an appointment with the academic success professionals at your law school to learn more strategies to use your time and efforts wisely. (Amy Jarmon)

February 17, 2018 in Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Ready to Succeed - or Not

We are finishing our second week of classes. As part of the start up, I have been meeting one-one-one with probation students. We will have weekly appointments during the semester to assess strengths and problems, implement strategies, and monitor progress. The first appointments with students always give me a great deal of insight into their mindsets on success.

Here are some of the characteristics of the students on probation who are ready to succeed this semester:

  • They arrive on time or ahead of time for their appointments.
  • They take out a pen and paper or laptop to take notes during the meeting without prompting from me.
  • When asked to fill out an information sheet, they can list fall courses/professors/grades and their spring courses/professors without having to look them up.
  • They have reflected on last semester's grades and study strategies and can articulate some ideas for improvement.
  • They ask questions throughout our discussion to clarify points or inquire about areas we will cover this semester.
  • They have started the exam review process with emails to some of their fall professors before seeing me.
  • They use a daily planner or electronic calendar to record assignments and the date/time of our next meeting.

And then there are students on probation who do not seem ready to succeed yet (fortunately a small group). Hopefully that will change after grade shock/anger/angst has passed.

  • They have not scheduled an appointment with me before the end of the second week of classes as required by the law school
  • They "no show" the first appointment or arrive late to the appointment.
  • They come to the appointment without anything - no pen and paper, no laptop, no knapsack, nothing.
  • When asked to fill out an information sheet, they do not follow clear instructions or cannot remember the information to complete a section.
  • They have not given any thought to the last semester's grades beyond "if I had been in the easy section" or "Professor X's exam was too hard" or "I wouldn't have been on probation if I just got a D+ in Y course instead of a D" or other answers that are basically non-reflection.
  • They scowl, slouch in their chairs, sigh deeply in boredom, or exhibit other signs of frustration and animosity for having to meet.
  • They make no notes on assigned tasks or the date/time for the next meeting.

Past semesters reassure me that the second group of students will come around. It may be several weeks before they are ready to take advantage of new strategies, but they come around at least 95% of the time. Unfortunately, if it takes too long to do so, they will have lost valuable time.

But I live in hope. (Amy Jarmon)

 

January 21, 2018 in Learning Styles, Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 19, 2018

News from the AALS Section on Academic Support

Congratulations to the 2018-2019 Officers and Board Members for the AALS Section on Academic Support! The officer/board list is:

  • Chair: Staci Rucker (Cincinnati)
  • Chair-Elect: Courtney Lee (McGeorge)
  • Secretary: Jennifer Carr (McGeorge)
  • Treasurer: Jamie Kleppetsch (John Marshall - Chicago)
  • Immediate Past Chair: Danielle Bifulci Kocal (Pace)
  • Board Member: Raul Ruiz (Florida International)
  • Board Member: Goldie Pritchard (Michigan State)
  • Board Member: Zoe Niesel (St. Mary's)
  • Board Member: Susan Landrum (St. John's)

 The winner of the AALS Section on Academic Support Award was Linda Feldman (Brooklyn).

If you were not at the AALS Annual Meeting in San Diego and want to serve on a committee for the Section, please contact Staci Rucker to discuss committee positions. (Amy Jarmon)

 

January 19, 2018 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2018!

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading the Law School Academic Support Blog this past year. All of us here at the Blog wish you the happiest of holidays and best wishes for the new year that is fast approaching.

We are taking a short break from posting to enjoy the holiday season with family and friends and to snatch some rest. Postings will start up again on January 2nd.

All the very best!

The Law School Academic Support Blog Editorial Staff

 

 

December 23, 2017 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Holiday Cartoons

Please enjoy these holiday cartoons from the internet. (Kirsha Trychta)

Christmas Gif 1

Christmas Gif 3

 

Christmas Gif 2 

  Christmas gif 5

   Chrsitmas gif 4


December 22, 2017 in Games, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Faulkner University Law Professor Speech to His Millennial 1Ls

Hat tip to my colleague, Vickie Sutton, at Texas Tech Law for bringing an article to my attention. Professor MacLeod at Faulkner wrote an article for the New Boston Post publishing a speech that he gave to his 1L students. The Daily Wire reports on that speech here with a link to the original article. Although colleagues may agree that there are problems with millennial students' prior education, MacLeod's approach has garnered criticism for his degrading treatment of students in the classroom.   (Amy Jarmon)

December 9, 2017 in Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Making an ASP Brochure

If you're not responsible for grading exams, then you may find yourself with a few "free" days in December.  If that's the case, then this might be a good time to create or revamp a brochure outlining your law school's academic support programs and services.  The brochure can not only serve as a handout for students, but also remind your faculty colleagues of available resources.  (See Amy Jarmon's 2007 blog post "Working with Faculty Colleagues.") 

To get a jumpstart on the task, you are invited to use my school's brochure as a template: Download Academic Support Trifold Brochure Template.  Although we used publishing software to create the original brochure, I've provided a Microsoft Word version here for ease of use.  Of course, you'll need to swap out your school's particular program information, but I suspect that the big picture layout can remain the same for most schools.  Your school's public relations or technology department may also be able to lend a helping hand with logos, branding, and formatting.  (Kirsha Trychta)

December 5, 2017 in Miscellany, Publishing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 4, 2017

Impostor Syndrome - 10 Steps to Ovecome It

The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article interviewing Valerie Sheares Ashby, Dean of Arts and Sciences at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, about how she got over impostor syndrome. The article is an interesting story of one person's success and can be found here. Within the article is a link to 10 Steps to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome by Dr. Valerie Young giving practical advice on overcoming the syndrome. Over a approximately a year of intentionally practicing the steps, Ashby states that she was no longer limited by the syndrome.

These 10 steps may be beneficial to our students (and ASP'ers) who suffer from impostor syndrome. The 10 steps are here: 10 Steps. (Amy Jarmon)

December 4, 2017 in Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog wish you and your families a pleasant and restful Thanksgiving holiday. May you all enjoy lots of good food and fellowship with friends and family.

November 23, 2017 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Count Your Blessings

It is a stressful time of the semester for many law students. Even if they have kept up with tasks, there is more to do. And if they are feeling behind, it can seem overwhelming.

As we draw closer to Thanksgiving, it is a good time to count one's blessings to put the stress into perspective.

Consider these law school and legal profession blessings:

  • Being in law school and preparing to enter the legal profession are privileges that few people have.
  • Being a lawyer will allow you to impact positively many clients and your community throughout your working career.
  • Law school introduces you to people who will be life-long friends and colleagues.
  • Learning the law challenges your status quo each day and forces you to use your intellect in new ways.
  • Learning the law provides you with knowledge and insights that impact many aspects of your daily life: signing a lease, buying a house, filing your taxes, evaluating TV news stories, financing a car, writing a will.
  • Law skill will advance your critical reading, critical writing, and critical thinking skills beyond what you envisioned before attending.
  • Learning the law is valuable for many areas of employment whether you choose to practice or use your legal knowledge in industry, government, health care, or a myriad of other career paths.

Now consider all of the non-law-school blessings we have compared to so many other people in our world:

  • Freedoms provided by living in the USA
  • Family and friends
  • Shelter, food, and clothing
  • Safety and security
  • Financial means

If your perspective becomes too narrow with upcoming exams on the horizon, just step back and broaden your perspective. Remind yourself that you are blessed in many ways. (Amy Jarmon)

November 18, 2017 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2017

ETS Study on the GRE for Law School Admissions

Inside Higher Ed posted a brief news item on an ETS study showing the GRE as valid for law school admissions. According to the post, LSAC disputes the accuracy of claims made by ETS. As our readers know, some law schools are now accepting the GRE for their admissions decisions. The recent council for the ABA Section on Legal Education recommendation for greater discretion for law schools to use the GRE or LSAT will make this a hot topic for some time. We can expect more studies, I am sure. The news item is here. (Amy Jarmon)

November 13, 2017 in Miscellany, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Outlining=A Better Understanding of the Doctrinal Materials

I mentioned last week that 1Ls are likely starting to think hard about outlining for their podium courses. With the end of October approaching, students need to focus some of their precious time on preparing for their final exams. It takes a while for some students to shift their focus. But, those students who take time to prepare for final exams may often feel more confident and less stressed come the end of the semester. And a more confident and less stressed student may be better able to focus and demonstrate to the professor what he/she knows about the doctrinal subject come December.

One way students can to start feeling more confident and less stressed is by organizing their class notes around big picture rules in an outline. Students can insert into the outline various hypotheticals that test these big picture rules. The professor in the Socratic class could have generated these hypotheticals. They could also be pulled from other sources, like law school study aids or from the casebooks’ Notes and Decisions. Or, better yet, students can try to generate the hypotheticals on their own.

An outline can take many shapes or forms. What’s important is that each student focuses on what helps him/her best understand the material. What’s also important is that students try to create their outlines on their own. It’s cliché—but, a huge part of the learning process is synthesizing all the materials that each student has available to him/her and putting it down in the outline. Working with the materials and thinking about how and why the materials fit into the doctrinal course can help solidify or create a better understanding of the material. And who doesn’t want a better understanding of the material before finals? (OJ Salinas)

October 30, 2017 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How's Your Motivation?

We are at a time in the semester when students may be having motivation problems. Yet this is also the time in the semester when they need to stay motivated. Here are some tips to keep on track during the remainder of the semester when focusing on school work becomes difficult:

  • Breaking large tasks into smaller tasks to make them less daunting can help motivate you to get your work done. It is easier to get motivated to read 5 pages than 30 pages or to outline one subtopic than an entire topic. On your to-do list, list 6 blocks of 5 pages rather than 30 pages together; list multiple subtopics rather than an outline topic. Cross off each smaller task as you complete it to see your progress.
  • If you are having severe problems in your motivation to even get started on a small task on your to-do list, make the task even smaller. Tell yourself to read just one page or to outline just the first rule. Still problems? Then tell yourself one paragraph or one element of the rule. There is a point when you will realize it is ridiculous that you cannot complete a teeny task and thus might as well get started. Getting starting is usually the hardest part; most people can continue once they get started.
  • Congratulate yourself each time you finish a task. Pat yourself on the back for your diligence. Set up a reward system: small rewards (cup of coffee, 5-minute meditation, snack) for small tasks; medium rewards (15-minute walk, short phone call with a friend, 2 short chapters in a fluff novel) for medium tasks; big rewards (a restaurant dinner, going to the cinema, an hour's play with a pet) for big tasks. Choose rewards that are meaningful for you.
  • Avoid the moaners and groaners among your fellow law students. Hearing other people whine, complain, or spread doom and gloom affects your own mood. Wish your pessimistic classmate luck and walk away before you get infected with negativity.
  • Find places to study away from the law school if necessary to stay motivated and positive: the main university library, other academic buildings, your apartment complex business center, the public library.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. Yes, there are a lot of bright people here in law school. But remember that you were admitted because you also are one of those bright people. Besides, you are comparing yourself to the facades that others are projecting. This point in the semester causes a lot of false bravado that may not be backed up with as many study hours, as much exam preparedness, and as much confidence in reality. 
  • If you are not good at staying positive and motivated, ask a family member or friend to become Chief Encourager. Call or meet with that person for a pep talk each day. In addition, read positive scriptures, quotes, or sayings each morning and each evening to keep you motivated - maybe even post them around your apartment.
  • An accountability partner may also be needed in addition to an encourager. Meet another law student at a certain time at the library. Each of you will do your own work, but having to meet gets you where you need to be to start studying. It stops you from spending another hour watching TV or playing video games at home.
  • Watch out for de-motivating blood sugar drops in the afternoon. If you start to drag mid-afternoon, have a healthy snack: apple, granola bar, handful of nuts, yogurt, etc. Keep snacks in your backpack or carrel to provide a quick energy boost.
  • Sunlight affects your mood. To combat the fall blahs, take a few minutes each afternoon to get outside the law building or your apartment and into the sun. Walk around the outside of the law building two times. Sit on your patio in the sun.
  • Get enough sleep. Eat nutritious meals. Get some exercise. All of these lifestyle factors affect motivation. It is hard to stay focused on your studies if you are tired, hungry, wired on sugar and caffeine, or imitating a slug.

If you need help getting organized and motivated, visit with the Academic Support Professionals at your law school to get some assistance. I guarantee you that you will not be the first law student they have seen struggling with motivation. (Amy Jarmon)

October 29, 2017 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)