Month: December 2020

Because It’s There

During this holiday season I find myself in a great in-between. As a law student I have a few weeks between fall and spring semester and as a high school teacher I have a week off for Christmas and New Years. I am enjoying my break from….everything. Hopefully you could hear the sigh of relief as you read that!

As I prepare to enter the spring semester of my 2L year as an extended division student, I think it’s important for myself to refocus on why it is I (as well as my wife!) am dedicating the time, resources, finances, and energy towards my law school education.

In the 1920’s George Mallory, who took part in several of the first attempts at climbing Mt. Everest, was famously quoted in response to the question why he wants to climb the mountain. He responded “Because it’s there.”

Law school is an avenue to a career field. It’s a globally recognized challenge. It’s a means to an end. It’s a body of knowledge being taught. It’s a way of thinking only mastered through an institution. It’s a crucible. Law school is many things to many people, but when I find myself searching for that last bit of energy to continue studying, reading, or keeping my eyes open at 10pm in class, I find myself always coming back to one thing.

Law school is “there.” It is this huge beast of a mountain that is only accomplished one way. There is no way to go around, to take the easy route, or to coast your way through. And the experience of climbing it, not the view from the summit, is what gives me focus to continue.

This is an amazing experience. Often times I find myself sitting in class and reflecting to myself, “I’m in law school right now…this is awesome!” The knowledge I’m soaking in, the way my brain thinks differently now, and the universally acknowledged challenge of it all is reason enough to go to law school. Regardless of one’s intentions after a law school education, there is nothing else like it in the world. I recommend to anyone who is capable to undertake this challenge not for the career prospects, salary, or some millennial desire for “fulfillment,” but instead…simply “because it’s there.”

Well Deserved Break

Every semester ends with the dreaded finals season. No matter how exciting the semester was, finals season is not a fun time and it brings a new set of challenges. Attempting to predict what your professor will ask and studying hard from before Thanksgiving through the two weeks after, it is no doubt a physically, mentally, and emotionally draining time for every student. Some students have a finals schedule that is sufficiently spread out, while others have some finals back to back. The key to success is managing your time wisely and doing your best.

After this crazy finals season has ended and in the awkward time between the holidays, law students sometimes find themselves wondering what to do with themselves over the winter break. The creeping thoughts in the back of your mind nagging that you are forgetting to do some assignment or that you should be studying or updating your outlines will be a constant struggle to fend off in those short few weeks. Not to mention the struggle of having to wait until January for grades to be released. One might ask what to do.

I prefer to keep busy during these down times in an effort to ward off those creeping thoughts. Whether it be doing some sudoku puzzles, watching some awesome and cheesy holiday movies (shoutout to the Hallmark Channel), or browsing online and brick-and-mortar stores for some sweet deals, I always find something to do. While it is incredibly important to maintain activities that are not related in any way to law school, both during the semester and during breaks, I also plan to spend this Winter Break doing some research for a Widener Commonwealth professor. I thoroughly enjoy doing this research and it helps keep the boredom away. Not to mention that it is very rewarding!

Many second and third year students have found it rewarding to work during the break between semesters. There are so many great opportunities that Widener Commonwealth students have during both the regular semester and breaks. The ability to make and sustain professional connections, whether or not you plan on staying in the Susquehanna Valley, is valuable for your future career. Other students love to travel during breaks, with the obvious exception of this year.

Whether you are planning on occupying yourself by working or by leisurely enjoying the break, relish your semester breaks. It is a time to recharge and renew yourself before getting back into grind of the semester. No matter what you do, enjoy the well deserved break.

No one escapes the dreaded finals season, but don’t worry, we all make it through.

Finding Your Power Hour

Among many other things, law school teaches you the art of time management. You learn how to read rapidly for understanding, to juggle a rigorous course-load, and inevitably to make time for yourself for the sake of your mental health. An important part of this learning process for me was discovering my “power hour” for writing and reading. What is a power hour you may ask? To put it simply, a power hour is a time of day when you absorb the most information and attain your highest level of productivity. 

Pre-COVID-19, my power hour was at 7 a.m. before anyone arrived on campus. I would wake up at 6 a.m. (I know, crazy!), get ready, and take my breakfast on-the-go for the drive to campus. 1L year I usually did not have classes until 9:30 a.m. at the earliest, so this meant that I would have a couple hours of uninterrupted time to myself to read for my classes and prepare myself for the day ahead. I should say, however, that finding a time that worked for me was not so simple. The first few weeks of class, I found myself trying to emulate what I felt was working for my fellow classmates. Many students would wake up right before class, attend classes, and work ahead toward the next day until bedtime. While there is nothing wrong with this, I personally found attending classes exhausting and would find myself taking excessively long naps after class and frantically working until bedtime. I should add – without exaggeration – that sometimes I napped on the floor of my living room with my shoes and winter coat still on! Ultimately, I decided to shift toward going to bed early and waking up early and forgave myself for being unlike other students. 

As a 2L during the pandemic, I still highly value my peaceful mornings to myself, but some things have changed. With more challenging classes and law review on my plate, I had a lot more work than first year and I again was faced with the challenge of finding my power hour. I still have my early mornings when I read for classes, but I complete writing assignments and items for submission in the evening. Additionally, I work more on weekends but never start until after 3 p.m. so I can make time for some trashy reality television because – as I mentioned – you need to make time for yourself!

All of this to say, finding your power hour can be just what you need to re-vamp your productivity and become the best student you can be. While it may not be easy at first, I believe the process of trial and error, combined with a touch of self-forgiveness for being different are key ingredients for a recipe for success!