Are you excited about your upcoming first day of law school? You should be! Law school will be a great adventure—a unique experience full of highs and lows you will remember for the rest of your life. But what can you do to be ready to hit the ground running day one? There are plenty of great things to do to get yourself ready. Here are some practical suggestions that can help you to start out organized and on top of your game. Follow these rather painless tips and you’ll at least remove some of the early stumbling blocks to law school success!
I. Nail Down Logistics Ahead of Time
Day one is not a good time to find out how long it actually takes to get to your law school campus during rush hour. Plan ahead and be sure you have enough time to get there. Especially if you are in a new city and driving, make a dry run and work with your school’s transportation folks to ensure you have parking. If you are taking public transportation, be sure that you have the right bus or subway pass and that you know your route. Even if you fancy yourself a savvy commuter, let yourself over plan this one and get there early enough for a nice cup of coffee before class.
II. Get Your Course Materials As Soon As Possible
In an Amazon world, you may think you can overnight any book or course material you may need, but some can be tough to hunt down. Plenty may be available online, but don’t assume and wait until the last minute. Professors will likely post a reading assignment for day one, and you need to have your materials. Most professors will have no tolerance for delays on your being prepared for class, even if it really is the campus bookstore’s fault.
III. Have Your Calendar Ready to Fill
Whether you like the old-school paper planner or you prefer to go with Google calendar, be ready to fill in your calendar for the semester. As syllabi get handed out, take the time upfront to log all the dates in your calendar. The dates may seem far away on day one, but you will be amazingly busy soon, and you don’t want a LRW deadline or mid-term check-in to sneak up on you. Take the time on day one to get as much down as you can, and you will be one step ahead.
IV. Set Your Daily Schedule
Get yourself started right on the first day. If you have a break between classes, schedule yourself some prep time in the library. If you know you will want to review your class notes before you head home in the afternoon, get it in your daily routine and plan to stick to that routine. If you start off right when the demands on your time are reasonable, you will stand a better chance of keeping your good habits going when things get hairy later in the semester.
V. Make a Plan to Take Care of Yourself
A law school semester is really a marathon, not a sprint. If you neglect your health, you will end up sick (or at least worn out) at the end of the semester when you can least afford it. Make your trip to the grocery store ahead of time and plan out your meals for the first week. If you start with a week of fast food, it can be tough to get back to healthy eating. And when you are setting your daily schedule in advance, work in a jog or a trip to the gym. Again, if you can build in the habit from the start, you will stand a chance at making it last throughout the semester.
VI. Be Ready for Class Day One
Find that online syllabus or reading assignment that the professor posted and read what you are assigned. It can sometimes be a struggle to find, but assume you have an assignment unless you can confirm that there is nothing. Unlike most undergrad courses that start out slow over the first few days, law school can be entirely different. Much to my amazement, on my first day of law school my contracts professor quietly walked in and without a single word of welcome called on an unsuspecting victim to recite the facts of a case from the reading assignment. Be prepared.
Have you done all of that and are looking for more? Still feeling unprepared for actual legal education part of day one? If you really want the extra edge to law school success, check out Law School Toolbox’s Start Law School Right course. Covering everything from reading and briefing cases to stress management, this course will give you the best chance at law school success. Best of luck on day one!
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