Without a doubt, the hardest part of my 1L year was overcoming how burnt out I was after my first semester. However, by the time I got over this uphill battle, it was already April and I had to start prepping for finals (and was not very prepared to do so).
So whether it’s your second semester of 1L or your final semester of school, getting the motivation to buckle down and complete an entire semester all over again, and all that work that comes with it can be difficult. The good news is that you’re not alone and even better, if you set yourself up for success early on in the semester, you can get a head start on others who won’t. Below are some ways to get motivated for optimal second-semester success.
1. Learn From the Past – and Then Move On
By this point in the year, your fall semester grades should all be finalized. If they are exactly what you were hoping for or not at all what you were expecting, the only way you can focus on this semester is fully moving on from the last. Learn from your grades, whether it’s by simply looking over your exams on your own or by bringing them to your professor to go over and then put them behind you once and for all.
2. Get Organized
Nothing makes me happier then getting organized for a new semester. Whether it is buying a brand new planner or a big desk calendar to write down deadlines for the semester, you should utilize what works best for you. Personally, I like buying a planner that I can fit in my backpack and keep with me at all times. I use my planner mainly to write down my readings for the week ahead so I don’t have to keep referring back to my syllabi. Additionally, I like to take the time in the beginning of the semester to create outlining deadlines for myself. Setting these deadlines keeps me accountable and also helps make sure I’m not too overwhelmed towards the end of the semester.
3. Maximize Your Class Time
Going to class is important but not nearly important as using your class time effectively. So instead of responding to emails, surfing the internet or even using your computer at all, try focusing on the class and being present. This essentially means coming to class fully prepared and participating or asking questions about parts of the material you don’t understand. Being proactive in class now will save you a lot of time later.
4. Set SMART Goals
In addition to maximizing your efforts in the classroom, you should also start the semester by setting goals for yourself. It’s difficult to be motivated each day if you don’t know what goals you want to reach. Besides the typical advice of setting a goal to study early for exams to avoid cramming, you should also set SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym for:
- Time Bound
The method was first attributed to George T. Doran but has been discussed by many as a way to, “effectively create, develop and achieve your goals.” The hyperlink above describes each heading in detail, but the takeaway from this method is developing reachable goals for you to keep yourself on track. For example, maybe your goal is to get a job for the summer or attain a certain GPA this semester. Setting a goal that is reachable will not only increase your chances of achieving it but will also help you keep focus more during the semester.
5. Do Something Good* for Yourself Often
Here, good means healthy.* Law school is difficult, but it becomes even more strenuous if you aren’t taking time for yourself. Make sure you are doing something good for yourself as often as possible, whether it’s walking up the stairs instead of an elevator, taking a long bath or making yourself a nice breakfast instead of the piece of toast you normally eat while running out the door.
For example, as an athlete growing up, my favorite form of exercise is playing team sports. I was able to join an intramural team my 1L year and while this meant taking some time away from school a few hours every week, I was able to do something I loved which helped me find a healthy balance between school and extra-curricular.
6. Use Your School’s Resources
Every school has set aside resources to help you through each semester – whether it’s being able to meet with a counselor for any of your academic or personal needs or providing supplements for certain courses in the library for your use. Make sure you’re aware of all the resources available to you at your school by either reaching out to student services or looking at your school website – these resources are solely meant for you to take advantage of!
While not an exhaustive list, these suggestions above are meant as a way to check in with yourself and make sure you’re doing all you can to be successful in the beginning of the semester. Keep in mind – all the work you put in now will pay off come finals. Happy studying!
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