I started law school in Fall 2004. I dropped out Spring 2005. If it weren’t for the support of my husband and children, I’d still be a dropout.
My parents always stressed the importance of an undergraduate and graduate degree. So, I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in my 20s and avoided their suggestions to immediately enroll in graduate school. Though my 20s would have been the optimal time to pursue an advanced degree, I decided to finally heed their advice in my 30s. I tend to do things the hard way! Why I chose law school? Well that’s another story!
The problem — by the time I was in my 30s, I was married with four children and working full-time. It is no wonder I dropped out after the first semester. Here are a few things I should have done while in law school to make the experience more enjoyable.
1) Establish relationships with classmates and professors. It is just as important as relationships with friends.
- Building rapport with peers and professors keeps you abreast of important information when you don’t have time to sift through hundreds of school emails.
- Graduate school leads to jobs. Fostering relationships helps develop preliminary network.
- Study groups are integral to the law school process. If only I’d established regular communications with my peers, studying would not have been so stressful.
2) Avoid full-time work.
- Relieves additional stress and allows focus on fewer commitments that require 110% of your time. I missed out on so many of my children’s homework assignments and activities.
- Allows for more effective assignment completion and study time.
- Provides a substantive experience with the school community.
3) Confide in classmates who are similarly situated.
- Provides a sense of comfort when others can empathize with your situation.
- Learn alternative coping techniques when trying to juggle the unending responsibilities and assignments.
4) Maintain an approachable demeanor.
- Not smiling caused me to miss out on a lot of great relationships.
- Meeting other students in the last year of law school was too late to be a true benefit.
5) Practice patience with those who love and support your journey.
- Listening to the stories about “law school Mama” versus “done with school Mama” is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story of century.
- I barely stopped to smell roses of my family’s accomplishments. Now those years are a complete blur.
While I am grateful for completing law school, I know that it was one of the most labor intensive, life altering, and stressful moments of my life. Probably not as bad as giving birth, but pretty darn close! So, if you decide to step out and conquer graduate school with a family and a job, make sure to keep these pointers handy. It will make your journey that much more enjoyable.