As the last few weeks of the semester approaches many students start to feel their motivation slump. The initial excitement of a new school year has worn off and is replaced with a pile of lengthy reading assignments, outlines that aren’t up to date, and the anxiety-inducing knowledge that finals will be here in no time. It can be tempting to revert to bad habits or become disengaged as the semester drags on, but slacking off now will likely lead to more stress later on. Law school requires consistent, methodical preparation throughout the semester, so if you find yourself becoming complacent, use some of these tips to help you re-motivate and finish the semester strong.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
One of the best things about the traditional academic calendar is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, you have a lot of challenging work ahead of you over the next few weeks, but there’s an end in sight. Once you’re done with finals you will have four glorious weeks of winter break to enjoy or even a whole summer vacation to look forward to! What you have to remember is that the short term sacrifices you make right now will eventually lead to long-term gains in the form of a less stressful finals preparation period and ultimately better results. Remind yourself that although you have to put in a lot of hard work right now, you’ll have plenty of time to rest (and enjoy the fruits of your labor) during the school break.
Set Clear Academic Goals and Benchmarks
Having a goal to strive for will not only help you stay motivated over a long period of time, but it may also help you achieve better results, because students who set clear academic goals tend to outperform their peers. Setting goals is one of the easiest steps you can take to help sustain your motivation and improve your grades, but to really benefit from this step you have to make sure your goals are precise and concrete. Rather than just saying to yourself “my goal is to do better this semester!”, actually write down a specific aspiration you have or specific standard you want to meet, such as “I want to finish in the top 25%” or “I want to have outlines completed for every class before dead week starts.” Once you have your ultimate goal(s) written down, set intermediate benchmarks that you want to meet along the way. Reaching these small steps on the way to your final goal will improve your confidence and keep you motivated.
Outlining throughout the semester, rather than cramming at the end, is one of the best ways to methodically prepare for finals. Your outline should be essentially complete by the time classes end so that you can spend the reading week reviewing it and practicing with it, rather than scrambling to pull it together at the last minute. Additionally, staying (or getting) caught up on outlining will some pressure off and help you feel more prepared and confident heading into the second half of the semester. So if your outlines aren’t up to date, pick a day in the next week that you can devote to outlining, and get them done!
Maintain a Balance
Even the most studious among us needs to take a break from law school every now and then to recharge. If you’ve been going full steam since the start of the semester, or even if you’re just feeling a bit worn down, take some time off. Law school can be an intense undertaking so you need to balance it with the occasional break. Things are most definitely going to ramp up the closer you get to finals, so the halfway point in the semester is a great time to take one last break, whether it’s a weekend trip or just treating yourself to something fun. Taking some planned time off should help you feel rested and refocused for the remainder of the semester.
There’s no getting around it: law school can be boring sometimes. Reading case books and outlining isn’t what most people think of as a good time. But no matter how unengaging you find the material or your professor, you have to find some way to get interested in what you’re doing. Find the value in what you’re learning by connecting it to what you need to know to pass the bar exam or relating it to what you might be doing in practice someday. Join a study group, ask questions in class, make your own judgments about the cases you read – anything to get yourself involved in the learning process and, hopefully, to make studying a little less tedious.
It’s normal to feel less eager about law school as the semester halfway point approaches, but it’s important to find ways to reenergize yourself for the remainder of the term. Staying on top of things throughout the semester will ease your workload (and your stress level) during finals, and ensure that you can start your school break feeling confident about your performance.
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Other helpful law school tips:
- How to Stick to Your Goals in Law School
- Need More Time? Study Smart Before Your Law School Class
- How to Get Stuff Done in Law School
- How to Tackle Procrastination and Get the Law School Grades You Want
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