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Tuesday, December 10, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Carolyn Hax: Calming the law school jitters

Washington Post

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I’m in my first week of law school and I’m soooo nervous.

I honestly believed everyone when they warned me how difficult law school is and how much hard work it is, but somehow the severity of it didn’t really come alive for me until now, when I’m already in it. I’m FREAKING OUT. Any advice?? – FREAKING OUT

Everyone who warned you was right, now you know, and presumably most if not all of everyone-who-warned- you got through it. Right?

So, barring the unforeseen, you will get through it, too.

Remind yourself this is not your unique terror for which you are ill-equipped, but instead your turn through a tough obstacle course through which others have passed and through which you were deemed qualified to pass. Widen your view.

And, remember the strategy for getting through anything difficult: break it down into small pieces and work at it steadily.

Re: Law school: Like any number of similar experiences, law school is especially frightening at the outset because everything about it is new. The good news is that even now while you’re floundering and freaking out, you are developing familiarities that are going to make the second semester much easier. – Familiar

Re: Law school: As a law librarian, I would like to add: Seek help from the reference librarians when you need research assistance. Law school involves a lot of research, much of which can be overwhelming to newbies. We know which resources are going to be useful for your topic, and we love providing assistance. – Law Librarian

Librarians: cerebral first responders. A round of applause for all of you.

Re: Law school: Some of the best advice I received when I was thinking about law school is to treat it like a 9-to-5 job. Put all of your effort into 40 hours per week of studying – a solid 40 hours – and schedule downtime and fun things, too. Exams, including the bar exam, will probably require longer hours, but that is temporary.

And don’t let the competition and peer pressure make you work harder or longer than you need to. You’ll pick up how you learn pretty quickly if you don’t know already. – Anonymous

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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