A few weeks ago we talked about steps to take when you receive not-so-great grades in school. The likelihood of not doing as well you expected is very high in law school for various reasons. But that’s not to say that no one will do well. In fact, I know many Latinas students (both current and former) that excelled in school and that is worthy of acknowledgement! Aside from recognizing the fruition of hard work, there are still steps you have to take to ensure that you continue on a successful path.
When I was in school, a friend earned very, very, very good marks, but was at a loss as to her next steps because she didn’t really have any guidance. She was the first in her family to go to college, and knew very few legal professionals before starting law school. Who could she turn to for help on creating her professional journey? Situations like these can become delicate because without the right information and support, how can one know what are our best options?
If you received better than expected grades, with a great class rank to go with it–you owe it to yourself to figure out and re-evaluate your options. While grades aren’t the end-all and be-all, they can make a huge impact on a variety of things, especially when they are above average.
So what should you do?
One. Assess. Most professors won’t review your exam answers with you because they want to focus on students that didn’t do as well. Instead, you should assess your study habits and what you did to prepare for your exams because, likely, these were the winning combination to help you learn the material and prepare for the tests. Review your behavior and try to stick with it as best you can this semester. It won’t be a perfect pattern because as you move on in your legal career you will continue to add on more responsibilities that will require your time. But now that you know what you need to do to perform well on finals, you need to make sure you try to continue those habits for as long as you can.
Two. Reach out. This is the time to go to your career center to get guidance. I know many people aren’t satisfied with their centers, but if this is your only option you should use it. Go to your counselor and ask that it means in regards to job opportunities. For example, some firms only interview certain GPAs or ranks, and maybe now that they’re a possibility you want to research what it will mean to participate in OCI. Visit your financial aid office (though, I hope they’re reaching out to you first), to determine if there are any new/increased scholarships available to you. Research outside of your school as well because there may be local associations and groups that give out aid and you candidacy would be more competitive now. Essentially, while not-so-great grades don’t mean the end of the world for most people; very good grades are likely to have opened a lot of new doors for you that you should explore.
Three. Remember your worth. There are many stories of students with good grades that don’t do so well the next go round. There are a lot of reasons for that, but I think one issue that affects women is known by many names (confidence gap, imposter syndrome, self-sabotage, etc), and I think for Latinas we also have to push back against the humilde obstacle we sometimes face. Whatever you call it, it is essentially a weird state of mind where you become scared of your achievements. Maybe you think it was mistake and you’re not really that smart. Maybe you think it was a fluke and next time you will fail. Maybe you don’t want people to think your conceited and fail to reach out for advice. Maybe then you start missing classes, or skipping your assignments so that in the end you will not excel like you once did. I don’t know why we do this, but I wish we could recognize it right away and end it. This happened to me my senior year and it really put my future in jeopardy. My senior year in college, after receiving my first two acceptance letters and realizing I was so close to my professional goals (and probably so scared of what it would actually mean to go to law school), I started doing things, like missing stretches of class, that could have seriously and negatively impacted my ability to attend law school. Of course I blamed it on senioritis and other dumb things, but looking back, I’m sure that my behavior had a lot to do with being scared of success.
So if you find yourself doing things that are out of character and you know those things aren’t conducive to success, take a moment to remember that you are capable of achieving your goals, and more importantly, you are worthy of achieving them!
And of course, make sure you take time to celebrate and acknowledge your achievement with those that are supporting you along the way–felicidades! And keep on going!