Author: asiabolton

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!

TAP’d through Widener

The spring before I started at Widener, I received an email that my law school application had been updated. When I checked the update, the only thing I saw next to my name was “TAP packet mailed.” I had no idea what this meant, or for that matter, whether I had been accepted. To make my anxiety worse, it was a Saturday morning so there was no one to even call to clarify. It puzzled me so much that I frantically began a google search on law school “TAP packets.” Nothing came up. I searched for hours until I suddenly stumbled across a news article of a woman from New Jersey who was accepted through her law school’s TAP program and recently had passed the bar exam. I thought to myself, “there’s no way!” I headed over to Widener’s website, searched TAP, and sure enough it was a thing! A few days later I received my packet and was offered an invitation to participate in Widener’s TAP program. TAP stands for Trial Admissions Program and it is how I got accepted into Widener Law Commonwealth.

TAP here at Widener is a six-week summer program where three nights a week you take three real first-year courses to gauge whether you will succeed in law school. It was a bit competitive and rigorous, but all-in- all it better prepared me for what to actually expect if I were to be accepted. You can take all the pre-law courses offered in undergrad, attend webinars, google “what is law school like,” and search many random Instagram pages attractive to future law students. But nothing—nothing prepares you more for law school than TAP.

Throughout my first year at Widener, I constantly looked back on my experience at TAP as a reminder that I could get through the semesters. TAP has taught me so much from how to read cases properly to how to write out timed final exam essays. The cold calling in TAP prepared me for the actual cold calling in law school (although as a 2L I still dread the sound of my name being called). The TAP professors prepared me for what my professors would actually be like in law school, and for that I am forever grateful. It is no secret that law school is intimidating and challenging but it is also really rewarding. My time here at Widener would not be possible had I not been given the opportunity to participate in TAP. So, if you’re like me stumbling for answers on what a “TAP packet” is, this blog post is for you. If you’re not like me and are just curious about what the law school experience is like for a TAP-ee, this post is also for you!

I used to be scared to tell my colleagues that I came through TAP. I didn’t want the judgement and at the time I didn’t want anyone to know I had to go through extra hoops just to sit with them. But in reality, TAP isn’t a bad thing. In fact, TAP gave me a strong head start and helped me become the successful second-year law student and student leader that I am today.