As the end of September grows near and the leaves start to turn from green to gold, there’s usually only one thing on a new law student’s mind, and spoiler alert: it’s not apple picking.
The first few weeks of 1L are an absolute whirlwind of scheduling, googling what “supplemental jurisdiction” means when you get cold-called, and meeting new friends. Once October 1st rolls around, many 1Ls find themselves panicking about their study habits, since finals suddenly seem a lot sooner than they did a month ago.
But there’s no need to stress!
AdaptiBar has your back. Below are some tips and general advice for how to feel back in control of your first semester as a 1L.
Tip 1: Know Thyself
The only way to plan a study schedule that works for you is to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses. If you find your mind wandering after reading cases for 30 minutes, you shouldn’t plan to “study” for hours-long chunks. Similarly, if little distractions easily derail you, you shouldn’t aim to skip around from topic to topic while studying. The key here is to not set yourself up for failure. Work with your natural talents to push yourself to succeed, instead of trying to force yourself to study like someone that you’re not.
Tip 2: Break it Down
For 1Ls who feel overwhelmed at the sheer amount of studying they need to do, check out the Pomodoro Method. The idea is to break down your studying into manageable pieces, rather than one large chunk of time. This productivity tool is a simple timer, set for 25 minutes. After those 25 minutes are up, you can take a 5-minute break to check texts, surf the internet, or get a snack. Once you’ve completed 5 “Pomodoros” (the 25-minute cycles), you’ve earned a 30-minute break. This method is great for students who are easily distracted and have trouble knowing how to start studying.
Tip 3: Lists Aren’t Just for the Grocery Store
One of the most daunting aspects of 1L is learning how to prioritize from subject to subject when you’re taking a full load of classes. Every class is just as important, which means you should spend the same amount of time on every subject, right? Wrong! By now, you’ve been in classes long enough to know which topics come easier, and which take more time to master. Use this to structure your studying with a running “to-do” list that prioritizes concepts to master. Once you feel comfortable with a certain concept, cross it off the list. You’ll be surprised by how satisfied you feel!
Tip 4: Find Your Tribe
Many new law students are used to studying alone. Traumatic experiences of group projects gone wrong can lead many students to avoid groups altogether. However, no matter what your experience has been, law school is a different ballgame. The first semester of 1L is all about learning a new language, and everyone in your section will be in the same boat. So, band together! A great way to learn new concepts is to discuss them in a study group that meets weekly. Study groups have the added benefit of holding you accountable and making sure you get out of the library (or, at least, the quiet part of the library!) for some social time. Once you have a good group going, you can share outlines and collaborate as the semester heads towards finals.
Tip 5: Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
Another common mistake 1Ls make seems impossible: over-studying. However, by not making sure you have enough time to eat healthily, exercise, and enjoy hobbies, you risk burning yourself out. While it is tempting to spend every waking moment with a casebook under your nose, be sure to carve out some time to practice self-care and enjoy life. Law school is important, but staying healthy is too.
Tip 6: Whatever You Do, Don’t Panic
Everyone from your professors to anonymous internet commenters will tell you again and again how crucial the first semester of law school is for your future. While this can be motivating, for many 1Ls it can feel paralyzing to know how important these first few months are. Our last tip is simple: don’t panic. It can be helpful to remember all the hard work you’ve done to reach this point. No one just “ends up” in law school; you had to work hard in school for many years, take the LSAT, and present yourself well in law school applications to even walk through the front door. You’ve come so far, and now it’s time to show yourself what you can do.