Monday, August 13, 2018

Reconnecting with Students

Visions of beaches and long hours interning are winding down.  Some students have fun stories from study abroad or travel during the summer.  Others experienced an epiphany during a summer clerkship.  Unless your students took summer school, that means we didn’t interact with them on a regular basis the last 3 months.  Summer is fresh on their minds, while our advice from last year is ancient history.  Now is the time to reconnect.

Recent memories tend to be the strongest.  The problem with our students’ most recent experiences may be advice from well-meaning attorneys that may not be the best educational strategy.  Students look up to attorneys since they are practicing, so we should combat that advice as soon as possible.

I believe the best way to overcome the ill-informed advice is start early meeting with students.  However, getting students into the office is always difficult.  Many times, the best way to encourage those meetings will be to reestablish our relationship with students in their domain.

I have not found widespread success just emailing students to have them come in.  Some definitely come in for help, but many tell me they will setup a meeting when they need it, which is always too late in the semester.  I have significantly more success when I walk through the café where they study.  Talk to students about the summer, classes, and anything else going on.  I suggest they come in and then I follow up with the email.  The relationship and connection tends to encourage more students to come in earlier. 

Every school will be different for connecting with students.  We have a café where students study and eat.  It is easy to walk through there to talk to students.  Many of our study rooms have glass fronts, so I can walk through the building talking to students in their study rooms.  I attended student organization meetings in the past to reconnect with students.  My normal goal isn’t to set a meeting on the spot.  The goal is to continue to build a relationship that leads to more interaction.

Summer myths abound.  Now is a good time to start connecting with students to dispel the shortcuts they think they found over the summer.

(Steven Foster)

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