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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!

Winter Break

January 7th, 2011 No comments

Hey All!

Sorry it has been so long since my last blog! November was quite overwhelming and left me with little time for anything but school work. But no worries, a few weeks of some much needed rest and relaxation has left me feeling renewed and ready for “round two.”

I’m sure you’re wondering how finals went…well let’s just say I survived ha! Actually it wasn’t all that bad. There were definite good days and bad days, but that was to be expected. In the beginning I found myself to be driven by my nerves for the unexpected and by the end I was working of straight adrenaline and excitement for the holidays and winter break. For me, it was the middle exam that was the toughest because I knew there was still an up-hill climb ahead of me. The last 2 to 3 weeks of my semester were spent alternating between studying in the library, Barnes and Noble, on-campus study lounges and my dorm. You see, the finals crunch brings on this sense of cabin fever and leaves you in some-what of a “study hop” in order to keep both your scenery new and your sanity. However, the best piece of advice I can give, after surviving my first semester of finals, is to remember that everyone is in the exact same boat as you. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and as if YOU are the only one struggling but you must keep in my that there are a couple hundred 1Ls feeling the very same way.

Classes will begin in just a few short days and I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. As I studied for finals, I found that I could have definitely made things easier on myself if I had approached things differently. So in a way, I’m looking forward to putting my improved techniques into play and seeing what results come my way!

I’ll be sure to update everyone on my first week of classes, but until then I’m going to enjoy my last few days of winter break!

Tips for 2011

December 30th, 2010 1 comment

After another semester of rigorous law school coursework, I thought I would share some insights for you future law school stars. 

1.  Start studying for exams the first week of school.
It may sound outrageous, but the most successful law students are the ones who take copious notes and begin outlining as early as possible… even during the first week of classes.  Law school is unlike any other academic endeavor you have encountered thus far.  Cram sessions in college just plain do not work here.  Start studying early!

2.  Get outlines from 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls.
Law school is hard enough.  Do not reinvent the wheel.  Get outlines from upperclassmen who have taken your professors.  These outlines are NOT a substitute for creating your own, but they are a good way for you to make sure you’re on the right track. 

3.  Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Sleep is your secret weapon.  To do well in law school, you must make long-term memories of what you learn.  Research consistently shows that the only way what you study can transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory is through adequate sleep.  

4.  Maintain a regular workout schedule.
If you work out already, keep up your routine.  If you don’t work out regularly, start!  You will be sitting for hours upon hours doing your work.  Regular exercise helps battle the bulge you will likely face from your new sedentary lifestyle.  Besides, it’s a great way to reduce stress.

5.  Eat healthy.
This should be self-explanatory.  Your brain needs fuel to function at maximum capacity.  Avoid the temptation to eat junk food.  

Good habits will make law school much more doable.  These tips worked for me, and I hope they work for you, too.  Best of luck to each of you in the New Year!

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.

A Suzuki Family Story

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Widener sponsored a gathering in the Pit the other week in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  People were encouraged to grab the mic and regale the congregants with tales and observations based on MLK’s teachings, philosophies, and overall impact on society.  Although I wasn’t able to attend, I’d like to share a Suzuki family story.
In 1963, my dad was a 25 year-old Duke seminary student and heavily involved with the Duke Chapel.  It was also the year that the Duke administration relented to student demand and invited Dr. King to preach Sunday service. My father was among the students allowed to participate in the reception dinner honoring Dr. King because he had been a student committee member that spearheaded Dr. King’s visit.
At the reception dinner, the Duke chaplain walked MLK around and introduced him accordingly, until he got to my dad (who may have been 1 of 2 Asians in all of Durham, North Carolina).  When my dad was introduced as Yugo Suzuki, Dr. King inquired if he was related to the Zen Buddhist philosopher, T. Suzuki.  My dad replied that Suzuki was among the most common names in Japan, “similar to Smith or Jones.”
Tempted by that, Dr. King took my dad to one of his aids, John Lewis, and introduced my dad as “Mr. Smith, from Tokyo.”  Mr. Lewis was told the nature of the joke and tested out the name. Mr. Lewis stumbled over the pronunciation, this being before the popularization of the Suzuki name through violin methods, motorcycles and raw sea bass.  Finally, on the verge of giving up, Mr. Lewis implored, “what kind of zuki is it?”  and my dad answered, “a su kind of zuki.” Dr. King, beholding, chuckled and announced, “I like that, I like that!”  Dr. King then escorted my dad around to some other attendants and recapped the entire “what kinda zuki? su kinda zuki!” conversation.
My dad tells this story during his sermon to shed light on the humanity, humility and humor shown to him by a man who was stormed with hate-filled letters and phone calls everyday.  The man, whose desk was overflowing with death threats to his family and himself, and upon whose shoulder’s weighted heavily the hopes and goals of the great civil rights contest, did not forget to share a moment of laughter, levity, and concord with a previous stranger.