make the most of law school orientationOrientation week of law school is supposed to be a time when you are “oriented” to the law school. It is also supposed to be a time where meet new people and gain some understanding of what you’re getting into.

Some people really enjoy orientation week. Others feel intimidated by it and report feeling pressure to “network” and become BFF’s with half  of their class right away. There is also a sizable portion of people that complain about feeling like they are back in high school again.

Whether you find your orientation week of law school super-useful or a huge waste of time, we invite you to check out our own free, three-day, online Law School Orientation that can help you make the most of your orientation to law school. It is not geared toward any particular law school – it is simply a three-day orientation through various posts and articles that will help you approach law school with confidence and set you up for success.

Day One of Law School Orientation:

1. Make a Law School Study Schedule: Making a law school study schedule to follow throughout law school will help reduce the amount of stress that you feel and help you conquer all of the tasks that you have to complete throughout law school. Law school can seem overwhelming at times. A realistic study schedule can help you space out assignments and get through the times where you feel as though you have too much work piling up.

2. Remember the Importance of taking breaks. Don’t be afraid to take breaks or incorporate some time off into your schedule. You do not have to make law school your whole life to succeed. Breaks increase productivity, creativity, concentration, as well as your ability to understand and recall information (you can read more about about the benefits of breaks here). They also help prevent burnout.

Remember that there is no “right way” to schedule breaks in law school. You can tailor the length of your study breaks to your schedule. Your study breaks can be long or short. I took one full day off of studying each week when I was in law school (and was still fortunate enough to graduate as the #1 law student out of 200 students in my class). I found that taking time off every week was absolutely crucial to my success. It gave me something to look forward to and helped me to work intelligently and efficiently over the week. You do not have to take one full day off a week, but it is definitely a good idea to schedule some free time into your schedule.

3. Eliminate distractions ahead of time to set yourself up for success. It is so easy to be distracted – to be studying one minute and then realize you’ve just spent thirty minutes on Pinterest the next. Distractions can be debilitating even to those with the best intentions on studying.

We have mentioned this in a previous post, but we will mention it again here: It is well worth your time to take ten minutes to sit down and think about what you are distracted by as well as how you can eliminate or reduce those distractions ahead of time. Here are some common distractions:

  • Phone: If you are constantly looking at your phone, set a rule where you can only look at it once an hour when you take a five minute break. Turn off all of unnecessary notifications. Turn your ringer off or set it so that your phone will ring only when specific, important people call.   
  • Facebook or Other Websites: Study internet-free as much as possible and close your internet browser when you do not need it. You will likely not need it most of the time.
  •  People-watching:  If you get distracted by other people, try to study at home (if you have a separate space) or in a study room in the library rather than in a big room.  Another option is to try to face a wall while you study so you don’t notice every time someone walks by.
  • Noise/Quiet: If you find noise distracting, carry around earplugs. If you find the quiet distracting, carry around headphones and your iPod.
  • Your Mind: If you are constantly thinking of things you have to do, people you have to e-mail back, or new ideas, keep a notepad next to you to write down all of these things (or use Evernote or whatever phone “notepad” app you have). That will help push the distractions out of your mind and also provide comfort that you will remember everything later.

Day Two of Law School Orientation:

Day Two will teach you more about law school and more about yourself. You can use the information you learn about yourself and about law school to improve how you approach law school.

1. First, learn a little more about law school. Read this post to get more familiar with the differences between law school and college. The article helps you to understand exactly what you are getting into. It should also help to realize that law school is different than undergrad and requires a different set of skills if you want to succeed.

2. Learn a little bit more about yourself and your learning style. It is a good idea to figure out your learning style to see how you study best. Are you an “active” learner or “reflective” learner? Visual or verbal? Sequential or global? The above link will help you figure that out. Figuring out your learning style should also guide you when you sit down to study. For example, if you find out you are a visual learner, use it to your advantage – incorporate as many pictures, diagrams, concept maps, etc. into your studying.  If you are an auditory learner, it might be a good idea to explain things out loud (to yourself or others) and write concepts down over and over again when you study.

3. Decide whether study groups are right for you. After you take the learning style quiz, consider whether it is in your best interest to join a law school study group or whether you are better off studying solo. Some people find study groups very useful; others find them to be a waste of time. Knowing what your learning style is will help you make this decision.

Day Three of Law School Orientation:

1. Stay positive. Don’t engage negativity. Many students report feeling more anxious during orientation week of law school than they had ever felt about law school before. Some say that orientation week of law school naturally breeds anxiety. After all, you will be surrounded by other anxious 1Ls  – and anxiety tends to breed anxiety. The above post will teach you how to approach law school with a positive attitude despite being in a negative environment. It helps you start law school on a positive foot.

2. If you feel discouraged, or not “smart enough”, read this post on learning to use whatever your perceived “weaknesses” are to your advantage. This article on how I graduated as the #1 law student is all about how I used my “weaknesses” to my advantage and to help me achieve my goals. It should help you feel less discouraged and anxious during law school.

3. Consider signing up for our law school preparatory course.  It will give you a detailed overview of the skills you need to succeed in law school, including how to approach cases, how to outline, how to prepare for exams throughout the semester and how to set yourself up for success in law school.

Last but not least, if being on an e-mail listserv is your thing, sign up for our newsletter to get law school tips and tricks e-mailed to you once every month or two. We don’t e-mail often and we never share e-mail addresses with others.

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