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Author Topic: Dissappointing first semester hurting your motivation for second semester?  (Read 2767 times)

ajstyles

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Here's my deal: My grades from first semester are so out of proportion with my effort (i.e. I sacrificed all my free time, social life and sleep first semester and am currently sitting in the bottom half of my class).  Because of this, I find myself so dissappointed that I feel that even if I work harder than I did last semester (which is almost impossible unless I just forgot completely about sleep) it won't really make a big difference.  THAT IS SO FREAKIN' DISCOURAGING I CAN'T EVEN EXPLAIN (although I probably don't have to since many of the ppl on this board may feel the same way).

The thing is that I am an extremely motivated person...hard working and motivated but not naturally brillant. And I guess that really bit me in the ass this past semester.

For the first time in my life I find myself less than motivated with respect to academics. That's a big deal to me. It's almost scary. 

When they said law school is nothing like you've ever experienced before...they really meant it.

jacy85

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The problem isn't how MUCH you worked.  It's HOW you worked.

Before you get discouraged, go see if you can go over your exams with your professor, and look into a LEEWS course or Fleming's course (LEEWS CDs are probably the cheapest option).

Really sit down and evaluate what you did to study last semester.  Was there anything you really think worked for you?  Did you ever finish doing something and feel like it was a waste of time?  Try to weed out things that weren't helpful for you.

And finally, consider this:  maybe you overdid it.  Life must be lived in balance, even if the balance is weighted toward work and study.  If you never took time to relax, if you never went out for dinner, if you never slept in on a Sunday, then you killed yourself.  I know it's not true for absolutely everyone, but I think most people that go and go and go without a break end up burning out, whether they realize it or not.  You will always do better at something when you're fresh.  You'll think clearer and absorb more information if you're well-rested.  And by well-rested, I mean not only getting enough sleep each night, but also taking time to unwind and let your mind relax.  So go out, have a drink, take a day off now and then.

And know that you can absolutely improve this semester.  It's not the end of the world.

UChi2L

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I did the same thing my first semester.  I KILLED myself studying, didn't go out, lost a bunch of weight during finals from forgetting to eat because I was so worked up, huge clumps of my hair fell out, I was snapping at my family, freaking out, etc. 

I got my lowest GPA of all of law school (it's my third year).

Second semester, after getting over my frustration, I started working smarter.  Not harder ... I was actually probably working less hard than my first semester (I doubt I ever worked that hard, even with all the stress and extracurriculurs I did in my 2L year), but I was working a lot smarter.  I didn't go to the academic services personnel at my school (I realized what I'd been doing wrong) but I recommend giving that a shot.

Don't get discouraged.  Gather yourself up, you'll be ok, and it's almost inevitable that your GPA/rank increases after next semester.  At least you have the "work ethic" thing down!
I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah.

Mozart711

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This is a little creepy; you have just described my exact situation during last fall.

To the OP: I'm in the same boat as you. I barely, and I mean barely, made top 50% of my class. I studied every free chance I had. But, I now know what works and what was a waste of time. So in our situations it is just a matter of tweaking our study habit, which I think will have very good results at the end of spring. Stay positive.

I did the same thing my first semester.  I KILLED myself studying, didn't go out, lost a bunch of weight during finals from forgetting to eat because I was so worked up, huge clumps of my hair fell out, I was snapping at my family, freaking out, etc. 

I got my lowest GPA of all of law school (it's my third year).

Second semester, after getting over my frustration, I started working smarter.  Not harder ... I was actually probably working less hard than my first semester (I doubt I ever worked that hard, even with all the stress and extracurriculurs I did in my 2L year), but I was working a lot smarter.  I didn't go to the academic services personnel at my school (I realized what I'd been doing wrong) but I recommend giving that a shot.

Don't get discouraged.  Gather yourself up, you'll be ok, and it's almost inevitable that your GPA/rank increases after next semester.  At least you have the "work ethic" thing down!

correguachin

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I haven't gotten my grades yet, but I predict that I'll be in the bottom quarter of my class, easily.  The fortunate thing is that I have already gone through the grieving process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. 

In fact, I think it will be a good lesson for me. 

(1) There will always be many, many, many lawyers out there who are smarter than me.  No doubt about it.

(2) I won't win every motion, convince every judge or jury, or triumph in every argument as an attorney. 

(3) Poverty has been, is, and will always be a possibility in life, whether or not I get straight-As in law school.  I can just as easily lose my job, get sued and go bankrupt, become handicapped and unable to work, or any of a couple dozen other scenarios that I could think of. 

(4) Wealth has been, is, and will always be a possibility in life, whether or not I get straight-As in law school.  (Use your imagination)

(5) Hard work does not always equal success.  Today on the way home, I couldn't help but think of poor Mr. Hoffman (in the contracts case, Red Owl Groceries) who worked days, nights, weekends, holidays.. every waking moment to try to be a honest, successful businessman.  Thousands of people work 15 or 20 hour days and they never see success in their lives.  I think most of us are brought up to believe that hard work and sacrifice always pay off.  They may be necessary conditions for success, but they definitely aren't sufficient conditions.

(6) Law school is something that some people figure out more quickly than others (and that is okay).  Three months is not a lot of time to learn to read a new language, become extremely fluent in writing that language, and perform well on one four hour exam.  I found it hard.  Others probably thought it was a walk in the park.  They probably did better than I did.  What can I do?

In the end, we sacrificed a lot and worked our hardest last semester to try to do the best we could.  That's exactly what we accomplished under the circumstances.  Just because we failed this time does not mean that we will fail again.  This semester, I won't have to spend those five, six, seven weeks that it took me just to figure out what exactly a rationale or a policy argument was all about.  I really want to go to law school and work as an attorney and so should you.  Otherwise all this pain and damage to your ego isn't worth it.  If you do, you shouldn't become discouraged by this first semester.  Identify your weaknesses and improve on them ~~ not just to get a better grade next time but to become the best advocate you possibly can.

ajstyles

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Thanks for all the great responses! I'm just gonna have to continuously ask myself throughout the semester whether or not I'm working smarter (rather than harder). But the scary thing is that I just don't know how much I'll be able to improve my rank.

jacy85

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You can absolutely improve your rank next semester.  But again, don't worry about that.  As I said before, put all your energies into what you can fix.  Your ranking will take care of itself.

proletariat

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I think that good grades would hurt motivation more than bad grades.  I would be like, "Oh, I worked way too hard if these are my grades.  I'll have to do less this semester."  I bring the slackness.

Soon2be1L

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I'm in the same boat.  Very disappointing 1st semester grades.  And I thought I knew this stuff.  I did get one A, which I am thrilled about, but am completely frustrated with my other grades.  I'm probably in the 50% range  :-[  I knew the material- I guess I just didn't analyze enough, I don't know.  I'll be meeting with the professor's to see where I went wrong or how I could have improved.

What should or could I do better? Anyone have suggestions as to how to improve?

Good luck next semester everyone!


UChi2L

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One thing I had a lot of trouble with early on in law school was forgetting to apply the facts to the rules in exams.  Sure, I'd do a cursory analysis of whether the guy was likely liable or not, but I wasn't really delving into the facts with any real deep analysis.  Look for little clues in the facts, things that other people might not analyze.  Nothing is a mistake, and professors sometimes hide the ball to separate out the kids who are really aware and focused during the exam from those who know the material just as well, but aren't.  It's hard to grade on a curve.  Help them out!
I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can't remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world's still there. Do I believe the world's still there? Is it still out there?... Yeah.