The holidays are almost over and soon the rejection letters will be coming out in droves. No matter what happens, almost all of us are going to go somewhere. Whether you are Harvard or Widener bound, expect life to get a bit more challenging once you walk out of orientation. To make your 1L life a little easier, I asked some 2l and 3l law students about some things that they wished they did in the year leading up to their 1l experience. Their suggestions require long-term habit changes; however, making them your New Years resolutions will guarantee an easier life in your first year of law school.
1) Make a sleeping regimen! Simulate the hours of sleep you are going to have as 1L and start adapting to the pattern. Reading cases demands concentration. Concentration is the product of sleep and it cannot exist without it. Good sleeping patterns take time to develop, so training yourself early will enable you to adjust adequately and make the first few weeks of law school feel less intimidating. In addition, sleeping well will make you less prone to depression. A positive well-being is essential to your success in law school.
2) Start exercising four times a week, for about 10-15 minutes a day, at a very fast pace. If you lift, avoid heavy lifting with high reps, and stick to lower weight with more reps and less breaks in between sets. This exercise routine will enable you to concentrate for longer periods throughout the day because the quality of your sleep (concentration) will be enhanced. Moreover, you will look better and feel better too.
3) Start eating better! Diet and exercise can add 20 years to your life and in law school, a proper diet will improve your cognitive functioning.
4) Cut back on the partying. Number 1, you will not be able to do it much in law school. Number 2, drugs and alcohol deplete your brain chemistry and that makes you stupid. You do not want to be stupid in law school! I am not saying drop everything, but cut back on the bong hits before bedtime.
5) Become more meticulous. In law school, being able to do things on time is critical and the details matter. Forget to cite once or twice and your grades will suffer.
6) Start reading the paper. If you are smart, you will read the Wall Street Journal because it contains information grounded in reality. If you are liberal, start reading the New York Times because it contains interesting fantasy that will make you feel fuzzy on the inside. Do this every morning and get used to recognizing the details of every sentence. You will get good at finding patterns by the time orientation roles around and this will surely help you read cases.
7) Start working out your finances. If you have credit card debit, try to take care of it before orientation. If there is too much to take care of, minimize creating any more. A good girl friend will not dump you if you do not buy her that Tiffanies tennis bracelet for your two-month anniversary. Also start thinking about how you will pay for your legal education.
Be at peace with your friends. In law school and before be kind to the people that you expect to support you occasionally. This is my favorite New Years resolution because it is the difference between total success and total failure in life. A supportive friend or two might pull you through when you feel like giving up.
9) Be cool to your loved ones! If you are married, start working out whatever kinks you have in the relationship. You do not want World War III breaking out in your living room the night before a final.
10) Find time for yourself. Do whatever makes you happy for an hour or two per day. That hour or two per day is what you will have to look forward to for at least the next two years of your life.
11) Finally, do not drink and drive! You donít want Harvard to give up your seat to some transfer student do you?
Good Luck and have a happy New Year!