How to calm your 1L jitters

Guest Blogger: Kate Fox, 1L Student

Kate Fox is a 1L at University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a social media intern for BARBRI Law Preview. She attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, obtaining a degree in Marketing with a minor in Applied Statistics. As a first year, she has secured a summer legal internship with FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh… Read More

We all get the Sunday Scaries knowing the next day is a Monday, and it will probably be significantly less fun than the weekend. With law school, it can constantly feel like a Sunday evening and fearing the worst to come the following day. With a few tips, you can learn to relax and keep your focus on your studies without stressing out daily.

Prepare for class in advance

The biggest stress for most first year students has to do with class readings. For those of you who don’t know, every law school class will have an assigned reading for that day from a casebook, and you come to class with a brief and notes prepared. Then, the professor will “cold call” or blindly call on students to talk about the reading. It is embarrassing to not come prepared, but the weight of all those readings can burn you out. The best way to keep up is to schedule your readings a few days in advance so that when something comes up, you are not scrambling to read and brief an hour before class starts.

Take advice with a grain of salt

As a 0L, you have probably talked to many current law students and heard the horror stories of 1L. Just remember that while it is certainly new and difficult, it is all what you make of it. One of our Top Law Students said she was “so terrified learning what first year was like” but later realized she made it through first semester with great grades, friends and good job prospects. Everyone will have a different experience and first year may not be the end all, be all for you. If you aren’t in the top 10% of the class, don’t question yourself. Ninety percent of lawyers didn’t make Law Review!

Go to the school and meet people

First year is hard enough, and doing it alone is not an option. As soon as you figure out where you’ll be, start making friends and meeting your classmates. Learn what the climate is like in the school environment. Meet 2L and 3L students to learn about your professors. The trick is to feel like you are joining a community so when it starts to feel like you’re drowning, you have plenty of support to keep your head above water.

Accept your place in the classroom

You will get called on and you will answer the question wrong. Accept it. People in your class will not judge you for this, because most of the time they think, “I’m glad I wasn’t asked that.” People don’t remember the incorrect answers in class. The truth is that they simply don’t care enough. What the professor says is “the law” and they will always be right. They are the ones who grade your exams, after all!

Do not be nervous for your first day. Okay, so you probably will be — but try not to be. Don’t only focus on grades. They are important, but they aren’t everything. Find out what you’re interested in and network. Make friends. Stay on top of your mental and physical health. And don’t forget to breathe!

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