Thursday, July 8, 2021

How To Study Better?

Top Tips for Students: Study Smarter, Not Harder

Do you always struggle to complete your college assignments on time and feel that your school study habits are not very effective in college? You are not alone. Many college students find it hard to perform well in class and on exams and often think, “I wish I could find someone to help me do my assignment for me.”


But it’s quite possible to get good grades without spending days on end in the library, pulling all-nighters, and disrupting the balance of your life.


Here are some tips on effective studying backed by science. Just implement them into your study routine, and you’ll see that it’s possible to achieve more while studying less.


Space out Your Studying


Cramming before tests is always a bad idea. Instead, you should space out your studying. You should distribute the material and learn it during several short study sessions over several days and weeks. In fact, the overall time you spend studying will be the same, but you’ll understand the information better and will be able to retain it longer. As a result, you are more likely to get an A on the final.

Long study sessions are less productive – it’s impossible to concentrate on your task for a long time, and that leads to a lack of retention. So you should create a list of tasks you need to complete every day and make sure to include regular sessions for each class.


Spacing out study sessions helps you learn the material more deeply and avoid procrastination. If you need to memorize important formulas, dates, or names for class, the best approach is to make flashcards for them and review them regularly.


Don’t Just Reread Textbooks and Notes


Simply reading and re-reading books or notes is a bad study skill that many students have. Passive reading is not actually studying. You need to actively engage in the material to construct meaning from text. You should use active studying techniques that will help you make connections to lectures and formulate examples. 


Here are some ideas on how to study actively:

Write questions to the material that you study;

Find your own examples to explain concepts that relate to your own experiences

Make a study guide for your topic – ask questions and answer them;

Teach someone – explaining the things you have learned will help you get them clearer in your head;

Create different charts, diagrams, and concept maps that explain your topic;

Try to find patterns in information that are similar across different topics.


When you prepare for a test, organize your study material into subtopics, and then actively review each of them. And keep in mind that active studying is never silent. You should say the material out loud.


Study Intensively


You will get more work done during short intensive study sessions. This way, you won’t waste any of your precious time. Your sessions can last 30-40 minutes and include active studying techniques. A good idea is to test yourself to find out what you have learned after you finish each study session. But don’t spend hours on self-testing – take short quizzes instead and have a break. Shorter sessions will prevent you from procrastinating.


Don’t Multitask


Multiple pieces of research have proven that multitasking negatively affects the results of studying, so you should definitely avoid it. If you multitask, it increases the amount of time you spend studying and decreases the quality of your learning.

It’s crucial to eliminate all distractions – social media, texting with your friends, playing games, browsing the web, talking over the phone. That will allow you to stay focused on what you are doing and get more done in less time. You should study intensively in short sessions and reward yourself with a social- media break.


Test Yourself


Practicing regular tests can help you revise the information you've learned. You should always quiz yourself after you finish each topic to see whether you’ve made some progress. Ask and answer questions, compare and contrast different ideas to train your critical thinking skills. If you are not satisfied with your test results, you shouldn’t move to another topic. Review it again and use different active studying techniques. Sometimes, you can test yourself on different concepts from related topics. Learning new material this way will significantly enhance your memory.


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Angry Law Student's "Letter to the World"


You never know what you'll find on Reddit. Sometimes you'll spend many hours finding pretty much nothing of interest, and other times you will find a gem like this.

Now, I don't want to be disrespectful, but the writing on this bad boy can be hard to read at times. But, even if you can work through the words, you can see what law school is like during COVID. When I went to law school, we sat in classrooms, so this is a whole different animal for me.

Let's take a long look at this "rant" and see what we can gleam out of this.
1L at a T20, doing fine, above median, but I don't think I can hang in any longer. First semester was a bear but I managed to keep it together, but now I'm 2 days in and I'm already done. I don't think I can and I don't think I want to.

The worst part is that the actual work part is fine. I like reading, like writing, like learning in general. It's all these extra all-consuming bits that make life miserable. It's the constant threat of being cold-called even though I'm not actually fully attuned to class because how could anyone be when we're all sitting in a living room beside our roommates; it's the reading long articles about pedantic, unusable bologna even though I'll never use it in life and I know none of it will be on the test; it's the people, who seem to love this, who keep telling the professors to use more breakout rooms, who, when we have a teacher who says he'll mostly lecture, actually request he cold-call us to keep us involved (what is wrong with you people), people who, when I ask how they like our weird-arse, insanely intense professor, get a gleam in their eye and say they love his energy; it's the unending frenzy about journals and summer jobs and joining pointless clubs. This whole thing just feels like an elaborate game of make-believe and everybody loves it and I just want to go outside and walk in the snow.

This isn't my life. I don't care. But there's a constant pull back into the insane cult of whatever the heck this is. I miss jobs where I cleaned toilets. I just want to be back in the real world. There's no point to making this except to shout into the void that this sucks and make my formal goodbye.
As you can see, there was some serious angst here. I get it. Law school classes can be a pain in the rear. I can't imagine doing it. Some of my professors were boring enough in the class where I had no choice but to pay attention/daydream. In those classes, I would probably minimize the tabs and do something else, or endlessly scroll through my Instagram.

However, somewhere along the way, the author has a change of heart:
Quick edit as I sit in class: First and foremost, this post was definitely too dramatic. That I regret. But it was sincere and if some people don't understand, that's okay, I can't get into trying to explain it any further. Honestly, I didn't expect anyone to understand, that's kind of the point of my frustration.

That most people do seem to relate, however, has been more encouraging than I can say. I do feel overwhelmed, I do feel at the end of some sort of rope, but as of now I feel far less isolated. I'll stop panicking and give myself the week to decide. I'll take all advice, I'll work on my perspective, and either I'll figure out how to make it work or I won't. Whichever way it ends up going, I want to say thanks everyone, sincerely, you've done a good job refuting my implication that law students are monsters.
During my second year of law school, I seriously wanted to drop out. I liked the first year well enough, but year two changed things. I had just transferred to a new school and law school wasn't quite as fun in my mind. The challenge of being the absolute best to transfer was gone and now it was an endurance race. Did I really want to practice law? Was it as boring as listening to my Commercial Paper professor talking about owning half a horse? If so, I didn't want any part of it.

I mentioned dropping out and got a barrage of advice from family that basically said I was crazy if I did. I thought about it, applied to some investment banks in New York, got a few interviews, but decided to stick it out through law school. It was hard at times. Few people will say that they loved every moment of it.

How do you deal with law school stress?

Law school is a super stressful time, and I think that this chap needs to squeeze a stress ball while in class. It may help. Nobody likes to get called on by their professor. For me, it was a terrifying ordeal. But, what does it matter in the end? Sure, it's super embarrassing. As a code-1 introvert mixed with a type-a perfectionist, the idea of looking bad or not getting everything just right was terrifying. I prayed that I would not get called on every single day, but I knew that day was coming as the other students were all getting it out of the way.

I remember walking into the classroom with a sweat and shaking, almost dropping my Criminal Law books on the ground. I just knew that I would get called on.

And you know what? I did get called on and everything was fine. The teacher could tell I was a hot mess, but I was always respectful and she had no want to rip me in shreds in front of the class. I never acted like a know-it-all and it helped.

Second, take a spa day. I am not sure what the COVID rules are like where you live, but you need to relax a bit. If you can, turn off your webcam and take a bath during class. Just don't splash if you are called on. Turn on some soft music and enjoy the water while the rest of your class stays dry. Honestly, it will help you.

Also, have something to look forward to after class. Is there some nature where you live? Go out and enjoy a nice quiet walk through the woods. Maybe you could hit up your favorite restaurant? Take a friend with you. There's no reason your life should be so insanely stressful that you are wanting to rip yourself apart.

Remember, law school is only three years long, and you are already one semester through it. In the end, you will be through with it and it will be a distant memory. Law practice is a lot worse, so you got that to look forward to! Enjoy these days!

Want to get out that T-20 and sit comfortably in Yale or Harvard? Check out my book. It has helped many others get top grades. It can help you, too!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

I Am Depressed and Thinking About Dropping Out of Law School

When I started law school I was super excited.  On my first day I met so many eager people who were all wanting to explore the depths of the law and become amazing attorneys one day.  After spending most of my high school days and four years of college wanting to be a lawyer, I was finally in law school!  Everything seemed wonderful, and my family was so proud of me.

The autumn days were filled with joy.  I would wake up early and be amongst the first in the law library, tort or criminal law book wide open, reading a case for the third time of even fourth time.  There was always something new to glean from the words of the judge.  I especially loved criminal law and have often dreamt of one day being a judge or prosecutor. 

Then something happened in December.  I stopped caring about law school.  It was like a light went off.  I went from loving the law to hating it.  I had to drag myself into the law library but was tired of the books.  Torts, criminal law, property.  Ugh!  Property law was the absolute worst.  What a depressing subject!  I looked outside, at the dark and dreary sky and thought to myself, why in the world am I here?

My professors noticed that I didn't seem to care as much.  "Is something wrong?" one of my fellow classmates asked.  

"Why do you ask?" I answered.

"You don't seem into it anymore."

"How can you tell?" I replied.

"When called on today you said you didn't read the case.  You always read the cases."

"You're right.  Something has changed.  I don't feel excited about law school anymore."

I walked towards my small apartment in the dark evening.  Cars would pass by and their lights blinded me as I walked.  I felt empty.  The old me would have cried.  Now I just would go home and lay on my bed, staring up at the ceiling, wondering what I would do with my life.  

I no longer wanted to be a lawyer.


In the corner of the room was a stack of textbooks, hornbooks, and examples and explanations books.  I read a copy of your book, From Law School to Lawyer, and I wondered if that was to be my fate.  How could have I gone from being so excited to this?

It is now my second semester of law school.  I am thinking about taking a break, but have no idea what in the world I would do in the meantime.  I can't move in with my parents again.  Yet, at the same time, I am going crazy.  Help!

***

Law School Depression and Dropping Out

Law school is a tough place, and you will not love it every day.  Some days are harder than others, and it is natural to think less of law school as time passes.  For me, I thought about dropping out in my second year after transferring.  The thrill of getting top grades and transferring to a higher ranked school was gone.  I was not sure if I wanted to practice law.  And so I thought long and hard about dropping out, just as you are.

I decided against it, and made my way through my last two years of law school.  I didn't take the traditional route to becoming a lawyer.  But, this is not about me, this is about you.

Depression is very real in law school.  It hits many people very hard in the winter months.  This is because the winter is a dark and cold time and many people realize that they miss the daylight.  Many people find that going on a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny during the winter break between semesters is beneficial.  Not everyone can do that, however.  There are other things that you can do to help you deal with seasonal depression that may be lurking below the surface.

I recommend adding more light to your house.  This is especially true if you live in the northern United States.  Not all law students are lucky enough to be going to a school in California, Florida, Hawaii or somewhere warmer.  Many of us end up going to schools in the Northeast where the sun sets at 3:45 pm.  Yes, it's depressing to be going to school in the dark and getting out after the sun has gone down.  It's like you live in darkness.  That really can affect your mood.  This is especially true if you are coming from a place that was sunnier.

I lived in California before going to law school in Massachusetts and later New York.  I was incredibly depressed as a result of the darkness that enveloped life.  This may be your problem.  If that's the case, consider getting a light therapy lamp.  Keeping one of these around you when you study is super helpful. It can help boost your mood.


Taking a semester off is sometimes a good idea, but it's not always so.  Sometimes it's impossible to do this, and it can be harder to go back after a break.  Having something non-law related in the future to look forward to is super helpful.  One thing that I did in law school was book a trip to Central America for a month in the summer.  However, that made it harder for me to have an internship during the summer months.  Lucky for me, I was able to have a short one with a local lawyer.  Talk about having your cake and eating it too! 

There are many small steps you can take to increase your mood during law school that don't involve booking expensive trips away.  You can take a weekend trip to a spa or bed and breakfast.  I did this a lot with my wife in law school and it helped with the mood.  Don't think of your law school experience as semesters, but break it up into weeks.  Instead of focusing on everything you have to do during the semester, take it one week or one day at a time.  It's a three year long adventure.  There will be bumps in the road.  But, once you look back, you will see that there were some good times that you miss.  I don't think that you are ready to give it up if it was your lifelong dream.  I recommend you think long and hard about it and ask yourself what you can do to make your life better in the meantime.  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Is It a Good Idea to Date in Law School?


I'm a pretty motivated student at a pretty good law school.  I would say that I'm probably in the top half of my class, but maybe higher.  The other students don't seem as engaged as I am and many of them are in a relationship.  I was thinking about staying single in law school but there is this girl who I sit next to in most of my classes and she is pretty good looking.  Well, she is pretty talkative and recently asked me out on a date.  At first I was a little apprehensive because I don't want to see my GPA drop, and it's my goal to transfer to a top law school such as Georgetown or Columbia if possible.  I think if I stick to my studies I could do it.

Anyway, I said yes and we went out for dinner.  She talked a lot about law school (of course, it's our life), and said she was feeling pretty burned out.  She said she needed something to keep her mind off of briefing cases and didn't care too much about getting good grades.  At first, I just listened and didn't give it any thought.  She's a great girl.  A lot of fun, super attractive, and always smiling.  She asked if we wanted to keep going out and I said "of course."  

We have now been together for about a month and a half.  We have some serious feelings for each other, but I have found that she is not into law school while I am.  I mentioned transferring and she said that she didn't see the point of it.  It worries me because I am wondering if dating while in law school was the right choice for me.  Will this come back to bite me in the end?  On one hand, she's an amazing woman and I don't want to give her up or lose her.  On the other hand, she's not that motivated as a student and thinks that I take law school too seriously.  I wonder, if I don't take the chance to do well, transfer, or graduate with a high GPA, will I regret it?  What about getting a job as an attorney after law school.  The truth is, I am terrified at the job prospects after law school. 

What should I do?  I don't want to break up, but I also want to maximize my career potential.  Any advice?

***

Is Dating in Law School a Good Idea?
Questions regarding dating while in law school are difficult ones.  I didn't date in law school myself (I had already been married for close to 10 years) and my wife was very supportive.  I think that it is important to be with someone who is supportive of your goals.  This becomes more tricky when you are both in school and have different goals.  

I would suggest sitting down with her and having a serious talk.  Do you both really want the same things?  Will this cause friction down the road?  Will this lead to regret?  

She may seem amazing at this point, but will her amazingness overshadow the idea of not doing well in your career?  How important is your career (it seems very important to you given how serious you are taking your legal studies).  

It is good to set boundaries.  In law school, boundaries are super important.  Maybe tell her that you would like to see her, but that you are devoted to your studies.  If she doesn't really understand that, then it may be a shadow of things to come.  

If you are dating in law school, you should ask yourself what your long-term reasons for dating are.  Is it just to have fun?  You said she was attractive and fun?  Are those two qualities enough to derail you from your long-term career goals?  If you end up transferring to another city or state for law school, will your relationship hold up?  Long distance relationships can be hard.  I imagine they are even harder while in law school.  

These things require you both to sit down and talk with each other for a while.  If you don't confront these possible scenarios now, they are going to be more problematic when you start to work towards your goals.  

Also, you should ask yourself if your dating and worrying will hurt your chances of doing well on final exams.  Law school is hard enough without trying to date someone who doesn't really support you or your future goals.  

I strongly recommend against dating during the first year of law school if it can be helped.  I understand that law school can be super boring at times and that some diversion in the form of a pretty face and fun person may be nice, but you are probably paying at least five figures to go to law school.  This is your moment to shine.  The first year of law school is the most important year that there is and it will affect your legal career in the years to come.  Many people find this out way too late.  

A frank and honest conversation with her is needed.  It's a scary thing, but so is not getting the career or grades that you dream of.  Think of it as practice for the courtroom when you are going up against an angry and powerful opponent and a judge who seems to not really like anything you have to say.  If she is the right girl, she will understand.  If not, then it may be hard, but not as hard as many years sitting in the bar, drunk and unemployed, wondering if you should have done something different in 1L.

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Writing skills are needed in almost every profession, but this is especially true of law.  If you are looking to increase your writing skills and gain exposure, then publishing on our website can help you develop your skills.  

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