Sunday, November 20, 2022
Almost everyone in my family is a massive sports fan. College football Saturdays are a tradition, so we talk non-stop about the current rankings and debate the what-ifs. A couple weeks ago after another fun Saturday, my 8-year old concluded Alabama football isn't very good this year. While many people in Tuscaloosa might agree with him (and want to fire every coach on the team), the statement is absurd. For non-college football readers, Alabama football has been the most dominant team over the past 15 years. They expect to win every game. My son made this pronouncement after they lost their second game this year. They are still ranked in the top 10 out of 130 teams, which is extremely good. However, since expectations required perfection, they fell short.
I want to remind all of us to manage our expectations going into the winter season. For students taking exams, no one writes perfect exam answers. Professors intentionally construct hard exams. You will probably miss a few (or more) small nuances. Everyone will. You can also still be successful on the exam while missing those nuances. Also, don't expect perfect grades. I understand most law students obtained great undergraduate grades. However, very few people graduate with all A's in law school. My suggestion for exams is to focus on preparation. Create a good plan that includes understanding the material, completing practice questions, and seeking feedback.
To our amazing future attorneys (February Bar takers), you will make mistakes. No one answers every MBE question correct. The vast majority of students don't start bar preparation with a passing score. Embrace mistakes as learning opportunities. Work as hard as you can within your program, but also, give yourself grace. When you miss an assignment, pick it up tomorrow. It is easy to miss a day, but don't let it snowball to 2.
For my ASP colleagues, you can't be perfect. You probably want to hold extra final exam workshops while meeting with every student who needs help and provide non-stop individual feedback. Unfortunately, there isn't enough time in the day to do everything you want to do. Your school probably asks you to do more than you can reasonably accomplish in 8-10 hours. Give yourself grace if you can't get to everything. Talk to a few faculty members for extra help providing feedback to students. Encourage students to meet with their doctrinal professors. Use time blocking strategies to focus on specific tasks long enough to mark things off your to-do list. Lastly, walk through your law school and smile at students studying. Your time is limited, but some students just need to see you pulling for them. A smile could make their day.
The end of the semester is a sprint. Most of us (students and professors) are in law school because we continually push ourselves beyond our limits. While I encourage everyone to push yourself to new heights, I also want to remind you that you are Alabama football. Very few people get an opportunity to go to law school (<2% of population), and even less are ASPers. Don't expect perfection over the next couple weeks. Instead, focus on studying or helping students each day. Try to enjoy the spring through the next couple weeks.