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.
When I started at Widener, I had no idea what to expect. Your first year of Law School is a bit of a culture shock no matter what school you attend, and the level of culture shock you experience as an Extended Evening Division Student can feel even more intense. Under normal circumstances, you spend the first week of your Law School career attending various orientation events on campus in order to help you acclimate and get acquainted with your classmates. As an Extending Evening Division student, your schedule is exactly as it sounds: full of night classes. This is done to help fit classes around a full-time work schedule. As such, attending orientation events that are scheduled during the day can prove to be difficult, if not impossible. These difficulties exist under normal circumstances, but are amplified in a pandemic, zoom world.
Although online orientation poses the benefit of tuning in while lounging in pajama bottoms and a semi-professional top, you are met with the inability of truly connecting with your peers. Without the advantage of face-to-face interaction, you seemingly lack the capability of forming study groups, bonds, and a sense of comradery. But, like all things must during the pandemic, you adapt. It took my 1L class a week or two before we created a GroupMe, and the rest was history. Throughout our 1L experience we helped each other navigate the uncertainties of our first year: how to read our professors, what to expect on a midterm, illnesses, family emergencies, layoffs, and much more. We started weekly study sessions that turned into nightly meetings come finals. The foundation of trust and support we built throughout the year despite the barriers posed by zoom classes became indestructible.
Only at Widener are you able to find a community of professors, staff, and students who will go the extra mile to ensure you not only feel heard, but you feel included. Widener makes it a point to assist all of its students, whether they be Regular or Extended Division students, adapt and thrive even in the most trying of circumstances. It is the people here that make the programs; and it is programs like the Extended Evening Division that allow working professionals who otherwise would not have the capability of pursuing their Juris Doctorate Degree do so.
With this in mind, as we approach the recommencement of in-person classes, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Sit next to a different classmate each time you have class, start a GroupMe, and make it a point to get to know each other. These are the people you will turn to when you miss a class and need notes or just can’t quite grasp a concept your professor has already re-explained at your request. These are the people who will help your survive Law School.