When I first started law school, a part of me believed that I had to be a “perfect” student in terms of grades. In undergrad, I was largely convinced that my entire experience was defined by how well I did on assignments. While my hard work has certainly paid off, law school is an entirely different playing field. The assignments are different, my attention to reading has changed, and I’ve had to adapt my writing style. This is a lot to handle as a first year law student, especially on top of adjusting to a new schedule and new people.
My heartfelt suggestion to any prospective or first year student is to be gentle with yourself your first year in law school. It’s incredibly easy to drown in self-inflicted standards. You don’t have to be number one in the class – what’s important is that you manage your time well, keep up with classes and readings, and do the best you can. I found that once I stopped focusing on grades in a purely numerical sense, doing well on exams became a matter of practicality. I stopped being obsessed with what worked the “best” and instead focused on what worked best for me. This change in perspective actually helped my grades. Don’t focus on being #1 – focus on doing well. If you do well, everything else will follow.
Understandably, a lower than average LSAT score can be a cause of stress for prospective law students. Do not let your LSAT score define you as a person or discourage you from applying to law schools. Your LSAT score will not necessarily dictate your legal career.
If you are a prospective student and have questions regarding Widener Law or the application process, please feel free to reach out to any of the student ambassadors. We are passionate about the Widener community and would love to help you.
Law school is nothing like I expected it to be; it is so much more. I came to Widener straight from undergrad, without taking any pre-law or law related courses. I thought law school would give me lists of statutes and codes to memorize. Instead, I’ve received an experience that has re-shaped my critical thinking and writing skills. By far the biggest surprise is how much fun I’m having in law school so far. I was told about the stress, the opportunities, and the heavy reading that I could expect as a law student. But no one ever told me that I was going to have so much fun. This could be because I’ve always been an academic at heart, or it could be because Widener Commonwealth is a truly unique and lovely place to study law.
I was lucky enough to receive a real, physical tour of Widener before COVID shut everything down. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew that Widener was special. It is small enough that professors and administrators know your name, but large enough to provide countless opportunities for experiential learning. Widener and I “clicked”, and I wake up every morning grateful to be a student here. If you are a prospective Widener student, I highly encourage you to reach out, schedule a tour, and get in touch with a student ambassador.
I’d also like to pass on something I learned this year: the power of checklists. At the beginning of each semester, I find myself frustrated that I cannot see the whole “picture” at once. In law school, you work through each element of a crime, tort, or contract before coming to the big picture. This was such a dramatic shift for me from undergrad, where I felt like I had everything presented to me at once. Instead of trying to see the finish line, I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy the scenery along the way. As each element or concept comes along, put it into a list. This will help keep information organized and make outlining easier. When you finally do have the big picture towards the end of each semester, your list will become an invaluable study tool for final exams. Instead of having to piece together a semester’s worth of scattered information, you will have a beautiful checklist to aid you while writing. While you study and do practice exams, you can simply move down the checklist and let it guide your writing.
No matter what class you’re writing a checklist for, don’t forget to keep in mind your own personal big picture. Everyone has a reason for coming to law school. It’s important to keep your end goal in mind, but don’t forget to enjoy the scenery along the way.