Month: November 2021

Thankful

To live in a country where anyone who has enough drive and determination, regardless of their socioeconomic background, can advance their career and education. To be surrounded by a community of support where I am not the only one who cares about my success. For all of the gifts I have received throughout my life and for the present and future opportunities to give the same to others.

Sometimes I find myself falling into the same trap that many law students do…trying to press the “fast-forward” button. Night after night, semester after semester……the grind is real! How lucky I am, however, that the fast-forward button doesn’t exist. How much of life would I simply skip through because of its difficulty? To find ground again, I often remind myself of just how thankful I am to be where I am. Sitting in a law school lecture, studying and reading from home with a supportive family, or fighting the hourly urge to see if grades have been released after finals. All of it… I am thankful for. All of it… a gift.

So I’ll continue to fight the urge to fast-forward, lean into the grind, and try to be thankful for every moment. Like all chapters in life, this too will be over in a blink of an eye.

Decompress the Stress

It’s no secret that law school is STRESSFUL. Even more stressful is final exams. They are the bane of every law students’ existence, but they are extremely important throughout your law school career. On top of that, life … is just stressful. We all know it’s important try to manage your stress, but let’s face it … it’s inevitable either way. Life happens even when school happens. However, there are ways to help decompress the stress. Throughout my 2.5 years of being a law student, I had to try to find methods that worked for me, especially during final exam season. It was definitely trial and error, but even though I still get stressed – it’s certainly easier to manage. Below are some different ways you too can try to decompress the stress, particularly during final exam season.

  1. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. We all know the benefits of living a healthy life. Eating good meals and staying hydrated are just key. If you’re into exercising, staying fit is a plus! You should definitely try to do these things often, but there are other ways to take care of yourself. For example, you could go to a spa or hair salon/barber shop. You can take yourself out for a fancy meal (to wherever you would classify as “fancy”). You could even just sit back and have a “mental health day.” Whatever you chose to do during the stressful times, just make sure you take the time to care for yourself because YOU matter too!
  2. SPEND TIME WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS. Sometimes as law students this seems almost too much of an added responsibility. Being social during the semester is tough because you’re consumed with readings, going to class, internships, work, taking care of a family, etc. BUT it is no excuse to be anti-social. Spending time with family and/friends is so important. Not only can it help you de-stress, but it can also help you refrain from going stir crazy reading and writing a majority of the days. If your friends and/or family are not local, try to make new law school friends! You’re going to want to have people in your corner to go to when things become stressful and tough.
  3. TALK TO YOUR PROFESSORS/ACADEMIC SUCCESS FELLOWS (ASF). This may seem like a no brainer, especially around final exam season, but you should be talking to your professors and ASFs all semester long. There is a misconception that law school professors are scary. At Widener, they are not! Each and every professor here just wants to see you succeed and it shows throughout their teaching methods and during one-on-one conversations. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about a particular class or assignment, it may be extremely helpful to just speak to that professor about it. Another vital asset here at Widener are the ASFs. They are like teaching assistants in a particular course and can also help you if you’re not understanding material from class. Here at Widener, there are several resources to help with stress, but starting with your professors and/or ASFs should be the start!
  4. CHAT WITH YOUR FACULTY ADVISOR. Law school can be scary when you first get here. You’re like a little fish inside of a big pond. But, there are advisors you’re assigned to when you start out as a 1L. USE THEM. Whether you have questions about a particular class, want to chat about a personal issue, stressed about taking final exams or just have questions about what your schedule should look like the upcoming semesters, the faculty advisors are here to help! Mine has been a huge help for me, especially during my first year!
  5. MEET WITH YOUR PEER ADVISOR/MENTOR. This is particularly aimed at 1Ls. At the beginning of your first semester, you’ll likely be asked if you want to partake in the SBA mentor/mentee program. You should absolutely consider doing this! Your mentor will likely be an upperclassman with similar interests/background as you that you can go to for law school advice. They can be particularly helpful when it comes to the stress of taking final exams because they have already been through it. USE THEM. Equally as important are your peer advisors. These are more utilized for career and professional services such as seeking jobs, internships, or externships. Most internships and externships will be posted right around the time when you start to think about final exams. This can be a stressor for some students. A peer advisor, like a mentor, is an upperclassman who you can go to for advice and help as well! So, if the thought of finding an internship or externship stresses you out, speak with your peer advisor! They have been through it.
  6. CONTACT LAWYERS CONCERNED FOR LAWYERS (LCL). LCL is a resource through the school who you can reach out to anonymously about stress you are facing. 

All of these tips are just suggestions on how to decompress when feeling stressed, particularly around final exam season. This list is not exhaustive, I’m sure there are many more! These are just ones that I have found to be helpful for me or have heard to be helpful for others. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed about law school, give one of these (or a combination) a try!

Professors Don’t Bite.

During first year, I can count the number of times I went to see a professor for help or to ask a question. I’m a shy person so seeking out conversation was not high on my list of fun things to do. I was nervous they would think my question was a “stupid” question or that they had better things to do other than to re-explain something we had already been over in class.

I was wrong to be nervous. It took me until my second year to figure out that that was not their perspective. First of all, it is part of their job to answer questions outside of class and recite information more than one time. But aside from that, I have found every professor to be kind, personable, patient, and very happy to answer all questions. Often, I leave with more than just the answer; I leave with a thorough understanding of the topic and ways to formulate an answer for a potential exam question or bar question. More than not, I end up staying longer than needed just to chat about life or their experiences. The conversation often will steer in directions to highlight other topics I would have questions about like how to answer multiple choice questions more quickly, where to find extra practice questions, and how to cram an insane amount of information into my brain for finals. I have found that the professors find genuine interest in their students and do want to help them succeed. One professor described helping students as an “academic delight.” I also imagine when students talk or ask questions, it helps professors understand what the students are and are not understanding and allows then to connect with the students.

So, when in doubt, just ask! It turns out, professors don’t bite.

Mom, Wife, and Law Student

During my law school career, one of the questions I get asked the most is “how do you do it?”. I am a 3L enrolled in the regular division program, married for 10 years with two babies ages 5 and 4. (They are technically not babies, but they are in my eyes.)

My response: I have a village behind me- literally! My parents, siblings, and soon-to-be sister-in-law take turns picking up my babies from school. They take them to the park and spend time with them. My parents will often bring dinner over, especially when they know I have late classes. My husband works to support our household and helps with household chores. (Yes, he is a saint!) They all work together to support me and my law school adventure.

My greatest fear when I started law school was that my babies would get upset at me for not spending as much time with them. So, I would explain to them that mommy had to go to school just like them. I even brought them out to see the campus- so they knew where mommy was when she wasn’t home. Like always, my children surprised me. They understood! When they wanted to do something, they would first ask if I had to go to school.

Their support means the world to me. I knew they were all going out of their way to help me and for this reason, I had to give it my all. I set myself a schedule and stuck to it. It was hard, especially because I couldn’t spend as much time as I wanted with my babies. But being a mom gave me the motivation and determination I needed to succeed. I didn’t have the luxury of slacking off because I had to be home by a certain time to take care of my babies.

Being a mom, wife, and law student is hard! But not impossible. With the right support, motivation, determination, and time management everything is possible.

Involvement: How Much Is Too Much?

As a Law School student, no matter which division you’re in, it is difficult to decide which organizations/activities to get involved in and how many you can handle. The rule of thumb is quality over quantity. I don’t mean to quote Admissions staff from various schools that provide this answer when asked what qualifications they look for on an applicant’s resume, but the sentiment of that answer rings true. You will feel more fulfilled if you find something you’re passionate about and get involved at a deeper level than just being a “general member” as opposed to being a general member of a variety of organizations.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t sign up for more than one organization when you start your Law School journey. Sign up for as many as you please! But do so with the idea that you are testing the waters to discover what peaks your interest, where you can see yourself thriving, and what best fits your schedule. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a step back from an organization if it is too much to handle on top of your classes and non-school responsibilities, or if it simply does not fuel your fire.

With this in mind, when you come to Law School, don’t get caught up in the array of organizations waiting for your membership. Find your passion and do some soul searching to figure out what will be a mutually beneficial relationship for yourself and the organization. Know your limits. Take it from someone who LOVES to pack their schedule, biting off more than you can chew is painful.