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Am I Ready? – Thoughts from 1L Darryl Green

September 9th, 2013 No comments

The start of law school can be daunting. 1L Darryl Green weighs in on preparing for the great undertaking:

 

As the days get crossed off my calendar, I find myself getting closer and closer to my law school’s orientation week.  As excited as I am, I can’t help the nervousness that grows stronger within me each passing day.  I am about to get a full on taste of what it’s like to be an actual student in his first year of law school.  The only question is, am I ready?

For me, it’s the one question that‘s repeated over and over again.  It’s well known that law school is no walk in the park. The undergraduate mentality that a lot of students come in with, have to be reevaluated immediately upon entering law school.  I am sure this will be explained in depth during orientation in every law school in the country.  But even so, the worries one may face when starting law school may come before one even sets foot on a law school campus.  Here are three of my main worries about starting law school:

1. The Work Load

By now, entering 1L students have probably received packages from their respective schools. These packages may include orientation information, class schedules, first assignments, required readings, suggested readings, etc.  ”First Assignments? Required readings? Suggested reading?  The school semester hasn’t even started yet and I already have work to do?” Yup, there are books that need to be read and assignments that need to be done before classes even start. A small work load compared to what will be handed to students at the start of classes.  As a full time student, my schedule consists of five classes that are (so I’m told) generally standard for 1L students.  Property, contracts, torts, civil procedures and legal methods.  All of which require a lot of individual attention, lots of reading, analytical thinking, understanding, briefing and outlining.  It’s definitely a step (or two, maybe three) up from years as an undergrad.  It’s something I know I’ll have to get a grip on.  I know it could  be very overwhelming and stressful, but if I don’t, it can be a full on disaster.

2. Studying

We all have different methods of studying and retaining information for quizzes and exams.  A lot of the time, the information we stored was only to be regurgitated during test time.  It’s something that as an undergraduate I’ve gotten used, and it has pretty much worked.  But all good things must come to an end. To some extent, at least what I’ve been told and experienced a little is, law school requires more than learning new information and reciting it verbatim.  Sure, I will spend countless hours studying and memorizing new words, rules, and other information needed for the law school exams. Doing my best impersonation of Mike from Suits (good show by the way) to help me through.  However, it takes more than just being able to recite the information you come across.  As a law student, I will have to be able to take what I learn and figure out how to apply it to a given scenario or fact pattern and then explain how I arrive to such a conclusion.  From my understanding, this is an important part of studying in law school.  It’s one thing to know the information, but it’s another thing to know the information and be able to apply it properly.  This is quite different from what I am used to.

3. Exams

If you love multiple choice tests, raise your hand. (Ok, let’s see. I get to choose between four, maybe five answer choices.  I know one of them has to be right and I’m pretty sure if studied hard enough, I can spot the answer when I see it. Yup, my hand goes up.) What about short answer questions? (Hmmm… ok. It’s a bit more time consuming than multiple choice, but hey,  Just read the question, write a sentence or two and I am golden.  I guess I can put my hand up here too. Reluctantly though.) Okay, now essay exams? (… and cue the cricket noise.)  No, I am not a big fan of essay style exams but from my understanding, it’s going to be what I am faced with come test time in law school.  Professors don’t really want to know how many times you can correctly guess an answer on a scantron.  And although, simply writing out two sentences, answering a question with yes or no and why is okay, it will only be a piece of a bigger question that needs to be answered on an exam. Professors want to see what you’ve learned throughout the semester and the best way for them to see that is through an essay style exam. It’s pretty much the norm in law school, It’s going to take some getting used to.

Those are a few of my worries with starting law school. Am I ready for it? Only time will tell, but I am preparing for what’s to come.  Since I know there is going to be a massive workload, I am trying to figure out the best way to go about getting it organized and how I can get a handle on it early.  Studying is going to take up a lot of my time, granted.  So setting up a schedule and sticking with it will be key.  Regarding the exams, one of my required readings is a book entitled Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School.  So far, its been very helpful and It’s a good book for essay exam writing.  (For your reference, it is listed in my Good Reads.)

 

What is it about starting law school that worries you?

What to Do During Your Law School Visit

August 17th, 2012 No comments

As we start a new school year, some of you may be scheduling campus visits as you apply.  Here’s a few suggestions to make the most out of a visit.

  • Do your homework first

I understand that some people prefer talking to someone rather than doing research.  But you give off a much better impression toAdmissions representatives if you visit a law school knowing the basics.  Research is a major aspect of law school after all, show that you are already savvy with it.  Take a look at Widener Law’s website before you stop by.  All of our application requirements and procedures are listed there.  Create an account through our portal and see what the process looks like.  Also, visit lsac.org for information about the LSAT and creating a Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report.  These are the basic application procedures.

  •  You interview us, not the other way around

Widener Law does not interview applicants so do not consider a visit as an interview for Admission.  No, a campus visit will not sway the Committee’s decision.  We will gladly help improve your application but any requests for reconsideration or clarification should be submitted in writing (email or letter).

On the other hand, this is your opportunity to gauge whether Widener Law is a good fit for you.  Make a list of questions that you feel are important and ask them during your visit.  If anything is unclear, ask again!  We are here to give you a full picture of our programs and atmosphere.   About.com has a good list of questions to ask, but ask anything you want!  If your tour guide can’t answer a questions, then someone else probably can.  Feel free to request another contact for further information.

  •  When should you visit?

Widener Law welcomes visitors any time of the year.  But I usually suggest waiting until you receive a decision.  I recommend applying to a wide variety of law schools (if you can afford it).  After receiving piles of acceptances (hopefully), narrow down your most likely choices.  Then visit those schools.

  • Meet students, faculty, staff, etc.

Visit a class, request to meet a student, stop by our cafeteria (Crown Court) and stroll through the library on your own.  Make sure to meet as many people as you can to get an accurate picture of student life.  We regularly schedule class visits and have an active Student Ambassador group to answer your questions.  US News offers a great suggestion:

“During your visit, try not to let the awe-inspiring (or underwhelming) facilities distract you; stay focused on what really matters. While a grandiose library may be impressive, pay closer attention to how happy and collaborative the students are and how involved they are in the school and in extracurricular activities. Is there a sense of community, both within the law school and within the broader university?”

  • Don’t rush to judgement

Just as when you visited colleges (if you didn’t then, you should visit law schools now), don’t rush to judgement.  I was highly disillusioned with my college visit.  It was a dreary, rainy day.  The campus was enormous and overwhelming.  The food was barely edible.  The location was not exactly “happening”.  And I had trouble really seeing myself there.  Despite the visit, they had great programs and a good price so I chose that school anyway.  I had some of the best years of my life there and I would choose that school again – I’m glad I didn’t rush to judgement!  Sometimes visits don’t give an accurate picture of three or four years worth of education.  Weigh your options.  We all have bad days, classes are not always lively and interesting, and rainy days happen.  Remember what’s important and take visits into account along with the bigger picture.

  • Now you’re ready to stop by!  

I hope you can all take a look at both the Harrisburg and Delaware campuses.  They both offer more than just a building, it’s an entire community.  For the full experience, call 717-541-3903 to visit the Harrisburg campus or 302-477-2100 to visit the Delaware campus or email lawadmissions@widener.edu.  Further details are available on our website.

What do you think?  What additional advice can you offer?  Comment below!

Work, Life and Law School: How Do You Balance It All?

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Troy Riddle, Multicultural Affairs Officer

Working full-time and attending law school can be a scary notion.  However,  Troy Riddle, Widener Law’s Multicultural Affairs Officer, is living proof that it can be done.  Mr. Riddle is an alum of Widener Law’s Extended  (part-time)  Division, his entry below describes his experience and tips that helped him through.

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Law school is challenging for a student of any age or academic pedigree, but I believe it is exponentially more challenging for students trying to balance a full-time job and/or family. The sense of accomplishment one feels, however, when the four year’s are over is euphoric.

As an Extended Division student, I was employed full-time as a middle manager in the healthcare industry, managing a staff of more than forty. The nice thing about my work situation, however, was that my boss and the staff knew I was in law school, and provided a lot of support and encouragement to me. This support system proved invaluable to me. Especially on those days where I hadn’t completed all of my assigned readings and needed to steal a few extra minutes at lunch time to try and cover the material before making the drive from Philadelphia to Delaware.

Four years later, it was all over, and to be quite honest, I was a little sad. I actually enjoyed law school. The rigors of legal education challenged me in ways that I didn’t know I could be. I learned a lot…not just about the law and how to craft ingenious arguments, but about life and how the world really works and how the law influences it. Because law touches virtually every aspect of human existence, it’s almost impossible to leave law school without having at least one “light bulb” moment regarding something you previously thought mundane or ordinary.
There are many ways to approach law school if trying to balance it with work and/or family.

Here are a few tips/advice I’d like to share with you:
• Don’t make any life-changing moves or decisions.
• Know that at times you’ll have more reading than humanly possible to complete.
• Know that the people you always see in the library aren’t necessarily getting the top grades.
• Understand that your family and friends won’t understand the demands being place upon you.
• Talk to your professors when you don’t understand a concept/case covered in class.
• Take as many practice exams as you can and get feedback.
• Take time for you (both mentally and physically); exercise, spend time with the family.
• Take at least one day during the week for a reprieve. (I made Friday my “me day.”)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (It doesn’t make you a poor law student.)

Much success to you as you embark upon what I think is the most transformative education one can obtain!

Thank you, Mr. Riddle, for sharing your experience!  If you have further questions about the part-time program please feel free to email the Admissions office at lawadmissions@widener.edu.

Meet Jason Ploppert – Rising 3L

April 27th, 2012 No comments

Jason Ploppert, Widener Law Student

My name is Jason Ploppert, and I am going into my third year of law school at Widener.  I am Penn State alumnus, where I majored in Crime, Law, and Justice.  Since coming to Widener I have become an active member of the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honors Society and the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law.

As an incoming 1L my biggest fear was the immense amount of reading, and the inherent competitive nature of law school.  Your first year in law school is unlike any other experience you have had in your life.  The pressure you face your first year is palpable, however, the professors and students at Widener make first year a much less harrowing task.  Professors and other students are more than willing to lend a helping hand, and unlike other schools there is less of the typical “me-first” mentality.  In my first year I had some of the best teachers I have had in my entire life.  My civil procedure professor, Patrick Johnston, was able to take a subject that many consider the hardest in law school and make it much less convoluted, while adding in a great deal of humor.  Another personal favorite of mine, Leslie Johnson, makes students feel so comfortable by being so approachable and teaches in a way that could make the most complex subject seem like third grade math.

At the end of the day law school is what you make out of it, in my two years here I have probably learned more than I did in the other 23 years of my life combined.  If you come here willing to put in the work, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Thanks for your thoughts Jason!  Learn more about him on our Student Ambassadors Page.

Two Months Down … for Meghan!

November 5th, 2010 No comments

AdmissionsBloggersMehganHarp185I can hardly believe it’s been an entire two months since I began my law school journey! I know this may sound cliché but it really does feel like just yesterday I was attending orientation, which by the way was super helpful. If you decide to attend Widener Law you will begin your law school career with a week-long orientation that not only introduces you to the field of law but most importantly how to be a successful law school student.

As far as I can say, law school is exactly what I expected it to be. My days are consumed with more than enough reading and case-briefing. Although, I have to say, as boring as this all may sound I’m really enjoying my experience here! I have met some great friends which has helped the transition into law school straight from undergrad easier than I ever imagined it to be. Also, the professors here are wonderful and I can already tell they truly care about their students…something I wasn’t expecting to see in law school.

I’ve also recently had a mid-term in my Torts class. Every semester, first year law students at Widener Law get a mid-term exam in one class; the other classes rely primarily on a final exam or final assignment. Obviously, the mid-term was very different than any undergrad exam I’ve ever taken so I was actually grateful to have the opportunity to “test the waters” before finals roll around…which, unfortunately, seem to be creeping up!

Well, I hope you’ve gained a little insight into what it’s like to be a 1L here at Widener Law. There will be plenty more to come, but for now back to the books!

Hello from Kathleen!

November 5th, 2010 No comments

AdmissionsBloggersKathleenHubbert185Well, I have officially finished my first law school exam in Torts, and I’m really starting to feel comfortable on and around campus. I know (or think I know) what my professors are expecting from me, and I’m getting used to the workload. Phew, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. No one ever said law school was easy, but I think that by living on campus I gained an advantage study-wise. I have at least 5 other girls on my hall in the same boat as me, and through our camaraderie and random question-asking in the bathroom before bedtime, taking my midterm exam was not as daunting as I would have thought. Thank goodness all of the studying has dwindled for the time being- I’m ready to devote my full attention on my case briefs and connecting topics to each other, instead of poring over an outline. It’s the small things in life that make you feel better about each day, and just knowing that I have the ability to take (and hopefully do well on) a law school exam makes me truly believe that I made the right decision in coming to Widener. Here’s hoping I feel this way post-finals!

Applicant Preview Day 2010

April 26th, 2010 No comments

I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the promising members of the incoming class of 1L’s at the Applicant Preview Day held on the Harrisburg campus on April 17th. Some of the attendees asked some pointed questions regarding what to expect in law school, and how best to prepare for it during the summer before classes begin.

First and foremost, enjoy your summer. Although I myself bought books that had general overviews of first year classes (torts, contracts, property, civil procedure, etc.), they didn’t prepare me for what was in store. What they did do was foster anxiety as to my capabilities because I didn’t fully understand what the books were talking about. I also didn’t know that not knowing what property (for example) entails, based on a 20 page summary, is to be expected. The text we use in property is over 1,000 pages long and people are still confused as to what certain aspects of property law encompass. If you decide that those “what to expect as a 1L” books are what you’d like to peruse as light reading, go ahead, but make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed because all the concepts will be expanded upon over the next 8~9 months.

Also, reflect on who you are, and who you want to be with a J.D. As I’m sure you’ve all heard, law school trains students to think like a lawyer. But please don’t learn to think like a lawyer to the detriment of your common sense and empathy. Don’t let law school alter your convictions or your ideals (unless they’re patently wrong), but also be open to alternative perspectives. Remember that individual experiences have made you and your classmates unique, and those experiences are ultimately who you are, not what the two initials after your name stand for. It goes without saying that your grades do not reflect who you are as a person, either.

Finally, enjoy the company of your family and friends and prepare yourself to become a nerd. The first two semesters of law school are so intense that you’ll quickly realize social opportunities are greatly diminished. Take the summer to spend time with family and friends, but also let them know that the next chapter of your life requires that you forego most socializing, so do as much of it as you can, while you can. Don’t feel bad about being a nerd once school starts. Everybody that succeeds in law school have their noses in their books more often than not. Weekends are just weekdays without classes. So be ready to work your butt off.

As for me, finals are 5 days away, so if I’m lax on blogging, please cut me some slack because my professors won’t…

When it rains, it pours.

March 25th, 2010 No comments

The first half of 2nd semester seemed like a breeze compared to the overwhelming stress and fear of the unknown I felt the first semester. The winter break rejuvenated me, and my grades reassured me that I was capable. I made conscious decisions to change some of my study methods that didn’t work, and do more of the study methods that did. My note taking skills had changed and I was much more effective and time efficient when reading. I was happy and social and my hair was lush and full. Then we were assigned the Appellate Brief.
Writing assignments are, generally speaking, consuming – both mentally and physically. My mind used to wander to fantastic places. I used to daydream about lunch and what I wanted to do when I grew up, or at least what I wanted to do with a J.D. Now my mind wanders to Sixth Circuit cases and the meaning of words I can’t yet pronounce.
The moral of the story is, law school is bound to give you gray hairs. And it’s probably not all that uncommon to find those gray hairs nestled within the grip of your tightly clenched fists after a few weeks of research, writing, re-writing and yelling awful things at your computer. Just don’t take your eyes off the prize because the semester will be over before you know it but regret and ‘couldawouldashoulda’ lasts forever.

Summer Schedule Stress

March 13th, 2010 No comments

My friend’s dad once wisely said that he feels sorry for my generation because we have too many opportunities, which can, ironically, lead to stagnation. His generation had but two options – take it or leave it. If you took it, you were stuck with it. If you left it, you’d better get used to eating road kill.
With that in mind, second semester is the season students start to stress over summer schedules. Summer offers two general choices- summer classes and internships. What you do over the summer can have ramifications to both short and long term prospects. On the one hand, if you take summer classes, you have that many fewer requisite classes to take during the fall or spring terms, which opens up the electives you can take. If money is an issue, taking summer classes will offer the benefit of student loans. In the short term, money is essential, but it must be kept in mind that it will have to be repaid eventually. An internship, on the other hand, could lead to future job placements and networking opportunities.
Many internships are purely for school credit or work experience and don’t offer a wage or per diem. Internships could lead to real relationships with people in law in the long term, but if it’s not a paid position, it could be outside the province of possibility in the short term.
My decision will ultimately rest on where and what kind of internships are offered to me. In the event that I’m not offered any, or any I like, I’ll be more than happy taking summer classes. Either way, I’ll let you know what happens.

Another Snow Day!

March 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Holy moley! Another set of classes cancelled due to inclement weather… I should be happy that spring break started a day early but I also know that we’re going to have to make up those classes eventually. I would have liked to get the week done uninterrupted so I could go into spring break feeling like all the classes are up to date, but I guess I’ll just sit at home and make some food. I’m going to try and make pulled pork with wholly molé.