June 22, 2016

Preparing for Day 1 of 1L

The 7 things you need to do to prepare for law school during your 0L summer are: find housing, acquire student loans, book holiday flights, check your law school's website, buy your books, visit your law school campus, and talk with current and new law students. law school blog. law student blog. law school blogger. law student blogger. | brazenandbrunette.com

This time last year, I was a mess. I had finally realized that I couldn't just wait around all summer to see if I got pulled from the waitlist and accepted that I would basically have to call the one school that did outright accept me and basically beg them to let me have my spot back. After that, I was in full-on panic mode as I rushed to get everything situated for the fall with only a little over two months until orientation began. If you're like me and tend to put things off until the last moment, here are some things that you'll need to start doing.


Housing

Now is the time that you need to find a place to live. You'll need to consider if you want to live in on-campus housing like a dorm, or if you want to get an apartment, or even if you want to rent a house. You'll also need to think about location, like would save gas living closer to campus or maybe consider nicer apartments further away from your school that aren't cheaply made for students. Do you want roommates? Because if so you'll need to find them. If you think you might end up wanting a pet, you'll also need to be considering that. The neighborhood you live in might also be important because if you're planning on studying at your place, then you might not want to live by a bunch of loud college kids. You'll also probably need to set up mail forwarding from your last house to your new one to make sure that you're still receiving all of your mail.

Loans

This was absolutely the #1 thing my mom was always on my ass about. Unfortunately, there's not really a lot of scholarships available for law students except what your school can offer, and there's also no law school grants available either.Most likely you're going to have to figure out how to get a loan. The nice thing about a loan is that whoever you get your loan from isn't going to be running out of money anytime soon so I was able to put this off until August and still get my money in time.

Check Law School Website

Your professors might have posted the syllabus for the class already or at least the first few reading assignments. Don't assume that this will be like college and they'll send you nice little emails letting you know what to do because most assume you already know how to check for assignments already. This will also be how you'll know what books you'll need for class and how to buy a parking pass, etc. 

Buy Books

In college I always waited until after the first week of class to buy any books because I wanted to find out which classes I could get by without even having the book. Not the case here. In law school you'll use your books in every class, every day. If you're ordering your books online through Chegg or through Amazon, you'll need to order them early enough to make sure that they arrive before the first day of class (or maybe even orientation, if your school gives assignments for that). 

I'd personally recommend NOT renting your books, because if you highlight for your IRAC, then chances are that you'll end up paying fines for writing in them too much. Also, because you will most likely end up using the exact same book for both semesters, you're not going to want to have to return a book after Fall finals and then a different one for your Spring semester. However, there's nothing wrong with buying used books—just as long as you make sure that whoever had it before didn't practically turn it into a coloring book.

Related: What law books to buy new, buy used, rent, and get for free 

Visit the Campus 

You might've already toured the campus when deciding which school to go to, but you need to go back for another visit. Figure out the fastest way to get from your apartment to class and remember how long it took you so that once school starts you know how early to leave. Even though law schools are tiny compared to a college (mine only has like 10 classrooms), you should still figure out where your classrooms, mailbox, and locker will be.

This is also a great time to stop by financial aid and see if there's any way you can negotiate your scholarship. One girl from my section didn't receive a loan initially but after finding out that the rest of us did with similar GPA/LSAT scores, she marched herself into financial aid and got a little scholarship out of it. Or if you did get a scholarship, you might see if there's any way they could bump it up just a little. 

Talk with Current/New Students

Whether it's someone you ran into while on campus or someone you've met through your school's admitted students' Facebook group, it's great to start meeting people from your school. Even though incoming 1Ls likely don't have any advice to give like the upperclassmen, they still can answer questions like Where do we meet for orientation? or Who knows our professors emails? The more people who can answer your questions, the more at ease you'll be on the first day of class


Book Flights

If you're going to law school far enough away from your family that you'll be flying home, now is a time to consider getting flights for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any major family events like your parents' birthdays or a wedding. I've heard that the best time to book domestic flights is 6 weeks before because of pricing, but I completely forgot to do this last fall and ended up having to pay a lot more for a last minute ticket home for Thanksgiving because I was so busy with finals just around the corner. Another reason you might consider booking flights in advance is that if you have proof that you've already had something booked for a while, you're more likely to get an extension for a deadline or days off work if you need it.

Final Thoughts

These are a lot of little details, so make sure you don't get overwhelmed trying to figure everything out all at once! Think of what needs to happen ASAP and what can wait until later on in the summer, and work on getting everything in order a little at a time. Of course, if there's ever anything else that you're unsure of as you get ready this summer, ask away and I'll try my hardest to help you!

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