Now that it is January, law students around the country are starting to frantically check for their law school grades. Some schools start releasing them soon after the new year. Some make you wait for a few more weeks. This can induce stress and create feelings of worry.
And then the grades come. A small percentage of law students will be happy with their grades. That is because of the curve. Only a small number in your class (in most schools) can get some kind of an A. So what about everyone else? How do you handle not getting an A?
This can be a hard transition for law students because most law students were high academic performers prior to law school.
I have worked with many, many second-semester 1Ls who are disappointed with their grades. Some are just disappointed and some are in academic trouble. Over and over again, they think that these grades are a reflection of their intelligence or their ability to be a lawyer. They forget about the forced curve. They forget that law school is a learned skill. They feel demoralized.
Many of these students have always done well academically and have never gotten disappointing grades. If this is you, here are a few things you can do to regroup.
- Remember, grades are just grades and do not reflect your intelligence as a person. Here is a secret: I got a disappointing grade my first semester of law school. I was devastated. It was the first grade to get posted. I immediately started to question whether law school was a good idea. This is a common reaction. If you got disappointing grades, it is important to realize that law school is a learned skill and that you just need to learn how to prepare better for law school exams (which I did and my grades went way up after my first semester).
- You won’t really be able to tell what went wrong until you get some feedback. Don’t start obsessing about what you did and didn’t do until you go talk to your professors about your exams and get some feedback. Were you shaky on the law or were you missing great analysis? Getting feedback will help you revamp your plan. (If you aren’t getting adequate feedback at school, you may want to consider a law school tutor.)
- But if things really, really didn’t go well, you need to reach out for help and make sure law school is a good fit. Your school likely has an academic support office. If things went really poorly, you should go visit the office and ask for some guidance. There may be support programs you can take part in to help you turn your grades around. Tutoring can also be very helpful for this as well.
Just because grades didn’t go your way doesn’t necessarily mean that law school isn’t a good fit. I know students who have gone from academic probation to getting straight A’s. It happens with hard work and an ability to learn to be the best law student you can be. So don’t let your grades get you down. Take our advice and regroup for next semester.
If you need some extra help, try out our Second Semester Reboot Course!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Five Steps to Second Semester Success
- The Key to Law School Exam Success? Think Like Your Professor
- Is Your Law School Exam Over? Then Stop Worrying About It!
- How to Recover From a Bad Law School Exam Answer
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