January 13, 2017

Preparing for Spring Semester of Law School

3 things to do to prepare for the spring semester | brazenandbrunette.com

Ugh it feels like Christmas break just started but that hasn't stopped that nagging feeling that I'm getting, reminding me to get my life together in the next week before school starts. For those of you who are 1L's, congratulations you made it past the hardest semester of law school and believe it or not your classes will get easier! (a fair warning though, that does not necessarily mean that you will be less busy) Even in undergrad I've always loved Spring semester because it's a fresh start in your school year but isn't completely new like Fall semesters. So, my friends, here's what I'm doing to get started on the new year! PS - Happy 2017!

Get finances in order

New year, new loans amirite? It sucks I know. Although I don't have to fill out another FASFA for this semester, I went ahead and double checked with my school to see when my tuition is due and if I'll need to request my refund or if it's automatically deposited in to my account. And since my government loan wasn't enough to cover my school and living expenses, It have to re-apply for another personal loan for this semester, too. If I had extra money left over from last semester, I definitely would think about taking out a smaller loan next time so because the less I initially take out (the principal) the less I'll have to pay later (the principal + interest). 

Next on the list: budgeting! I make sure I have enough money to pay for the next 5 months of rent (or maybe even 7 months in case I end up with an unpaid internship). I also look in to see how much my books will cost and go ahead and order those ASAP so that they get in before my first day of class.

With any extra money left over in my budget, I look and see what supplies I need to replenish. I typically need some more highlighters and other basic school supplies. I am still going to use my planner, but if you're needing a new planner for the new semester you should check out this post and also this one :)

Make a game plan

Now that I've been through a semester, I like to look back and think on what I slacked on the most so that I can make goals to fix those problem areas. One semester I struggled to actually read all of the cases, so I set a goal to make more time to read them. My first semester I procrastinated on my outlines, so then I made an effort to try to work on them a little each week. My goal is always to just try to improve on myself a little.

These goals are nice but I consider about what I'll need to do to achieve them. One thing that really helps me with that is creating a study schedule and planning out to study a little every day but also planning out some R&R time. Another thing I've tried is changing my study methods if what I did last semester didn't quite work out for me. 

Most importantly, I make appointments with my professor's office hours so that I can sit down with them and go over my finals. It's important for me to see what my strengths and weaknesses are! Also I go back through anything else that was graded and absorb any notes that were on my papers. I realize that this sounds like the type of advice that a guidance counselor would give but no one actually take or even what only suck-up students do, but I'm playing the law school game now and this is one of my cheat codes. 

Another big thing that I think really helps is that I review my notes from the previous semesters. Everything in law school builds on other topics so I know I will be screwed in my upcoming classes if I already forgot what I've been learning (plus it's a good little start for the Bar). All I do is start with my Fall 1L outlines and just read through them once, and then read through my Spring 1L outlines, and now I'm adding my Fall 2L outlines to that as well. My favorite law school quote is your rate of learning has to exceed your rate of forgetting.

Get organized

Déjà vu. Print out my syllabus. Color code my classes to my planner. Add due dates to my planner. Find where my classes will be (thank God law schools have less classrooms than college campuses!!). Find out when organization meetings are and if/when dues are due. Find out when try outs for any competitions are. Do a little internship hunting. This semester I bought cute file folders and a desk organizer and made a folder for: syllabi; financial aid documents; pro bono time sheets; internship paperwork; documents for tax purposes (FYI that's coming up soon); and textbook rental paperwork. Something I started last semester was adding my classes to my iCal with the classroom in the location so that I can easily remember it, and my section number and professor's names in the notes of the event. I set the events to repeat either M/W or T/R and have the repeat end for finals. I also set a reminder to go off "at time of event" just in case I'm grabbing a drink or something so I'm reminded to get back to class.

I also make sure that I'm getting my daily schedule organized too. This is probably my put-too-much-thought-into-everything coming out again, but I find that getting back into a daily schedule while I'm on break helps me be more productive when I'm back at school. I'll start going to bed earlier so that I can eventually be waking up as early as I do for school. Then I'll go ahead and actually not look homeless before meeting up with my friends or someone for lunch. When I get back in the afternoons, I'll make myself be productive by doing some laundry or helping my mom clean or cook. Because I'm not at school, I allow myself to watch a ton of TV but try to set a time to stop and stick to it. Then I read or do something else that isn't just bumming around. By the time I get back to school, it seems like my body is already on autopilot and used to the motions of being productive throughout the day. Just something to try maybe. 


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