Monday, December 17, 2018
First semester finals are over. Joy, fear, anxiety, or some combination of all of those feelings are setting in. I send my 1Ls an email providing some guidance for the next few weeks. My email does tell students to ignore finals, but as Nancy’s post last week suggested, taking 10 minutes to cry over the final is also good advice. After that 10 minutes, my biggest suggestion is to relax and enjoy time with family. The relevant portions of the email are below. Do your best to enjoy your break!
“As you learned this semester, law school is extremely rigorous and stressful most of the time. Staying disciplined, studying, and taking exams is an accomplishment. Most people could not endure law school, so you should commend yourself. The art of overcoming stress and moving on to the next challenge requires positive reinforcement from both others and yourself. Every time you make it through a difficult task, overcome an obstacle, or reach a goal, celebrate your accomplishment. Many of you may not believe me for a few years, but law school only begins your difficult career. Taking the bar exam crams the stress into a short amount of time. After passing the bar, you get to practice law, which is even more time consuming and rigorous than law school. Everything you do now to create work/life balance, manage stress, and maintain sanity will be invaluable when you enter the legal profession. So, CELEBRATE (safely) and CONGRATULATE YOURSELF!!!
Many students ask what to do during the break to prepare for next semester. I generally suggest a few things. First, FORGET YOUR EXAMS. It doesn’t matter what you wrote now. You can’t change them. Don’t talk to other students about them. No one wrote a perfect answer and many students find “phantom” issues. Even if you completely missed an issue (which EVERYONE does), you can still get a decent grade. You turned in your test and can’t change your answers, so move on to my second suggestion. My second suggestion for the break is RELAX!!! You had a long, tiring semester. Spend time with family who haven’t heard from you in months. Spend time with your kids that haven’t seen you since finals started. Turn your cell phone back on and watch recorded episodes of your favorite TV Show. You need energy next semester, and now is the time to recharge. Lastly, you can read a book to help next semester. You can either choose a book about learning or a book about writing exams for law school. I don’t suggest trying to read them all because you will burn out before next semester starts. Try to just pick one. You have many options depending on what area you want to improve in. Books that I like for learning/general improvement are: Make It Stick, How We Learn, and Grit. There are numerous law school specific books for each of the different skills needed for success. I like How to Succeed in Law School, Expert Learning for Law Students, and Reading like a Lawyer. You have more context for those books now that you have been through a semester.
You accomplished great things over the past 4 ½ months. Enjoy your accomplishment (safely), and I can’t wait to see all of you again in January. Enjoy the break!”