I’ve heard it. You’ve heard it. Everyone’s heard it. Law school is hard.
And guess what….they’re right.
So what makes law school so hard? Personally, I think it’s the finals. And, I think a lot of my classmates would agree. Sure, I took courses in undergrad and grad school that had a final exam or paper worth 80-100% of the grade, but nothing prepared me for the pure insanity of law school finals.
First, let me give you some context. Law school is filled with Type A overachievers who are all used to being good at what they do. I didn’t know this before I came to law school, so it has taken some getting used to. Imagine an entire classroom filled of students who are essentially you – smart, driven, and hardworking; it can be a scary place! Seriously, I’ve never seen an entire class study so hard. Once November rolls around, everyone is talking about “outlining” (which law school speak for compiling your class notes into a study guide), the library gets full, and your social engagements screech to a deafening halt. There are of course the few that are “too cool” to study, but no one has time for them.
I’ve always considered myself a fairly good student; not top of the class, more like a solid A- student. And, I have never studied so hard in my entire life. I went to every class, I did all the reading, and yet this past semester for the two weeks leading up to finals, I studied 10-14 hours per day. I wish I was joking. If my college and grad school friends were reading this, they’d be laughing at the idea of me studying so hard; 10-14 hour study sessions are simply something I never did before law school.
And the stress! My god. I’m typically a stress eater, so when I stopped craving salt & vinegar chips and Chipotle, I knew something was terribly wrong. You can actually feel the tension when you walk into the law school post-Thanksgiving break. A lot of students avoid the school all together and study at home or at the Business school.
Bottom line: If you want to come to law school, be ready to work. And I know that that’s what everyone says – but I am living that truth everyday and it is no exaggeration. The trick is, you’re not competing against some static 100 point checklist. You’re competing against smart, dedicated, incredibly hardworking individuals who also have a bloodthirst for good grades. It’s kind of like that TV show “Survivor” – everyone wants to win the money, but only those that play their cards right and have the right skills can even get to the final four.
As for me, I’m trying to get over my PTSD from this round of finals. Trying to regain all the pounds I lost from not eating, revisiting friends I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving, and catching up on sleep…and Homeland.