Reasonable minds can differ on various things, but something the majority will all agree on is that getting sick is not fun. When it happens in law school, it can feel like the end of the world – worse than the fact that no matter what you do, you simply cannot breathe through your nose. Amidst your oaths to never take breathing freely for granted ever again, you might find yourself worrying about school. So, what do you do when you get sick in law school?
Prevention, if possible, is key
Whether you take a multivitamin at 8:03 AM sharp every morning or whenever you happen to remember, the most helpful thing you can do is take steps to prevent getting sick. That includes eating well, drinking plenty of water (no, coffee does not count, as much as I would like it to), sleeping enough, exercising at least a little bit, basically all the healthy habits we get told to build from an early age. That way if you do get sick, you’ll hopefully have an easier time of it and recover faster. Obviously not all illness can be prevented – you can’t know that the food truck on campus is going to make you seriously reconsider your dietary choices, for example. But for situations where it can be prevented, one really helpful thing you can do now for you in the future is to do anything you can to prevent it from happening in the first place.
If you do get sick, most importantly, take care of yourself!
If you do come down with something, the most important thing you can do is to take care of you. School is important, and during the semester you might think it’s the only thing that matters. But school can be caught up on, your health can’t be replaced. So, do what you need to do to take care of yourself if you do get sick. Whether that’s taking medicine, getting extra sleep, living off nothing but soup for a week, slathering on Vicks, drinking your bodyweight in tea, whatever your thing is, do it. Even if it means not quite finishing that unbelievably long reading or doing that extra writing assignment. Give yourself some grace, neither you nor your health can be replaced, and you won’t do yourself any favors by pushing too hard.
If you have to miss class, two things that will help you keep up or catch up if you fall behind.
Ask your professors if they’ll let you attend class via Zoom
These days, professors are more willing to allow this because they’re more familiar with the platform and they’re more acutely aware of the importance of sick students staying home. So ask, it can’t hurt. If you’re not comfortable with contacting them directly, contact your school’s student services office. You most likely won’t be the first student dealing with this that they’ve worked with, especially in recent years, nor will you be the last.
Ask multiple classmates for notes
Worst case, your professor gives a hard no to Zoom. Best case, they agree and wish you a speedy recovery. Either way, ask multiple classmates for copies of their notes. This might seem excessive, but there are a few reasons for this. The first is if you miss a few minutes of lecture for any reason, you won’t be able to get that information without asking your peers. Plus, your classmates all think different things are important and what one classmate thinks matters may not make it into another classmate’s notes. Besides, one person you ask may get totally sidetracked with one of the other five million things going on and completely forget to send them. Backup plans are a great thing – just ask anyone who’s lost everything they had on their computer or phone because it wasn’t backed up.
Practice good hygiene
I don’t mean showering or brushing your teeth, though those are important too and things everyone around you will appreciate. No, I mean do the things we were told throughout the pandemic. Masking, distancing, washing hands, all of that. If you’re sick or think you might be, you don’t want to be that person who exposes an immunocompromised person or someone who has a household member at greater risk. Be considerate of the people around you. Your professors and classmates will thank you.
Recognize that it isn’t the end of the world
Sometimes when you’re sick, the symptoms make you think it is the end of the world. But seriously, it isn’t the end of the world. Plenty of law students before you have gotten sick, maybe even sicker than you, and they recovered physically and academically. It’s doable. But if you stress yourself out by doom-spiraling, you’re going to have a harder time recovering in both senses. So take a deep breath (figuratively if you’re congested!), and put your health first.
Getting sick is never fun, and that is more true in law school. But with prevention, planning, and giving yourself grace, you can get through it. If you’re sick and reading this worried about your illness, hopefully this helps you and, more importantly, hopefully you feel better soon! If you’re not sick but you’re worried because the hallways sound like a competition of who can cough the loudest, take care of yourself and do everything in your power to avoid the sick. But if you can’t, this advice will still be right here waiting for you!
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