While most of us are impatiently waiting for spring to get here, most law students are gearing up for finals and I do not envy you. I remember how overwhelming spring semester can be because not only do you have finals and other normal life responsibilities, but you also are prepping for the summer, and probably are dealing with oral arguments, maybe for the first time if you’re a 1L. It can just feel like too much. It’s normal to feel beyond stressed and overwhelmed, but it is also possible to manage everything that you have to do—very difficult, but possible. Here is what you need to keep your focus on:
One. Finals above everything. Grades are important. And while it’s true that many jobs post-grad won’t ask for a transcript, you need to keep your grades up if 1) your financial aid package relies on a certain GPA and 2) a high GPA will let you add Dean’s List or some CALI award (or something similar) to your resume, which can help when you’re brand new professional and trying to break into this industry. So, no you don’t need to ace everything, but you do need to make sure you get as high of grades as possible and that you show consistent growth as you pass through each semester. Don’t neglect focusing on finals and prepping for them now just because you have a lot going on. This may seem like a no duh sitch, but sometimes we self-sabotage and find excuses not to study. Don’t. Focus on finals.
Two. Get your money right. Hopefully by now, you have an idea of what your summer job will be, and hopefully you’re getting paid to do it. But if you’re not or are receiving a small stipend, make sure you have created a budget for the summer so that financial emergencies (that could have actually been avoided) don’t impact your focus or ability to give your all during your summer internship. So that means if you need to sign up for a summer course to get a loan (hello, me each summer) you know when/how to register on time and get your paperwork in so that you don’t freak out about how you’re going to pay rent.
Three. Extracurriculars for next year. If you’re a 1L or a 2L it’s important that you don’t overlook deadlines to apply for journals, moot court, or clinics. It can be easy to decide this isn’t important because you have so much going on. You may also convince yourself that you can’t make a team or journal and therefore don’t want to put in time to tryout. Please don’t cut off an opportunity for yourself just because you think it’s not for you. There’s no harm in trying out, and being able to have a clinic or journal experience can open different doors. Allow yourself to access all opportunities available to you. You never know, you could end up loving moot court or find a job opportunity through a clinic experience. So, make time to prep for try-outs and meet deadlines for these opportunities.
I’m not saying any of this is easy, but if you keep your goals in mind, and not let the panic of finals take over, you can make it work. What I found helpful was to make a really tight schedule (sometimes hourly) of things I needed to do. I also am a proponent of being really real with family and asking for help so that you’re not expected to act like this isn’t a stressful time. Also make sure you take the time to relax (put it in your schedule!) even if it’s small breaks. Ultimately, this is a stressful time and it’s hard, but you are capable of prioritizing. Focus on what will put you in a better place next year and then get to work on a game plan.