Summer Start Program

How To Prepare For A Summer Start Program

Unlike most traditional law school programs that begin in the fall, a handful of JD programs offer the opportunity to begin in the summer, typically May or June. These students have the advantage of getting a head start in law school. But, unlike their fall counterparts, they don’t have a full summer of freedom to prepare for the start of their program. If you’re admitted and not sure how to prepare for a summer start program, keep reading!

How To Prepare For A Summer Start Program

What is a law school “summer start” program?

If you’re unfamiliar with what a summer start program is, it is a JD program that, well, starts in summer! While summer start programs may vary from school-to-school, traditionally the purpose is to either:

1) gives students the opportunity to start and finish their JD early, or

2) to spread out their 1L schedule over one additional semester.

Added benefits of the summer start program:

The benefits of a summer start program, in addition to possibly graduating early, are being a part of smaller classes in the summer (which for most students leads to very strong bonds with their classmates), having additional flexibility in your otherwise rigid law school schedule, and being able to start your program in May or June as opposed to waiting until August. If you have the time and are ready to go, why delay?

Preparing for the summer start program:

So how do you best prepare for a summer start program? Well, if you are a working professional then our answer doesn’t change all that much from our general advice for fall students. While the below advice still applies to you, you likely have a bit more flexibility in preparing for the new program. Check out our advice on ways to maximize your summer before law school, as most of these should still apply to you!

However, if you are a current undergrad student that plans to start a law program, how you prepare for a summer start program changes a lot! If you are a student who plans to graduate in May and start your JD program just weeks or even mere days later, you must be prepared to move quickly and remain highly organized.

Keep reading for more tips.

  • Stay organized

This applies to everyone who will need to prepare for a summer start program but especially those that are graduating in May.  You’ll be juggling final exams, graduation, celebrations with friends and family, moving, preparing for orientation, and then diving into law school… just to name a few! To handle everything well, you must stay organized.

Start organizing yourself now. Make lists of things you need to do. We suggest having daily and weekly to-do lists that include any last-minute assignments and forms that need to be turned in for graduation, things to purchase for the start of law school, and even a packing list to keep yourself organized.  Check out these helpful workflow tips that you can incorporate into your life to help stay on top of everything.

Take some time to update your calendar so you know exactly when things are due and what you should be working on next. There will be a lot of things coming your way in a short amount of time. But if you stay organized, you’ll be able to manage it all!

  • Buy your books

Make sure that you have your book list from your law school and purchase any required books in advance. You can usually find these online or rent them from a local bookstore. While you’re likely to have a few days or a week of orientation to give you time to complete this task, you must remember that law school professors expect that you come to your first day of class already having read the assigned materials. Purchase your books well in advance of the start of school so you can complete all your assigned readings.

Also, don’t let the label “orientation” fool you – there’s still work to be done this week. Almost all schools start their legal research and writing courses during orientation week. Prioritize purchasing materials for this class so you can fully be prepared for day 1!

  • Relocate

If you need to relocate to prepare for your summer start program, you’ll want to do that in before orientation begins. Give yourself at least a few days to get settled in and unpack before jumping into classes again.

Be sure that you have your airline, train, or bus ticket purchased in advance of your move. Account for any weather delays or other things that could hold your move up. As mentioned in tip #1, begin you packing list now! There will inevitably be a few things that you forget to pack, but the more time you give yourself to think through what you need, the more prepared you’ll be!

  • Two related bonus tips:
    • Bonus tip #1: Purchase and pack as much as you can in advance of the start of orientation. You will likely be stressed out preparing for the start of classes. The last thing you want to do with your precious free time is run around buying necessary clothes, furniture, or toiletries.
    • Bonus tip #2: Think long-term when packing. Consider when you’ll be coming home next as you prepare for a summer start program. If it’s not until after the fall semester, pack summer and winter clothes if necessary!!
  • Spend time with family and friends

As with the start of any law school program, your schedule is about to get significantly less flexible. When you prepare for a summer start program, be sure to carve out time to spend with family and friends before law school starts. If you’re a graduating senior, this could be difficult to squeeze in between final exams and moving. However, it could be combined into a big graduation celebration where family and friends are all present (COVID restrictions permitted)!

We know that things are hectic right now but make sure you take some time to see family and friends (even if just over Zoom) before you embark on your new journey. It will get more difficult to do so once classes are underway.

  • Relax

Given everything you have going on to prepare for a summer start program, this may be easier said than done. But if you can, try to relax before your program begins! Read books, watch movies, and get outside! Life doesn’t end when law school begins but you will find you have much less downtime to relax. The anxiety and stress associated with law school are inevitable, so do yourself a favor and just enjoy the downtime you have now before law school begins!

Rachel Margiewicz, Director of Pre-Law Services, wrote this post. Rachel is a licensed attorney with years of admissions experience across three law school programs in different markets of the country. She knows what schools are looking for and how to make your application stand out!

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