So You Got Behind, What Now?

So You Got Behind, What Now?

In every online law students academic career, they get behind.  Sometimes you find yourself WAY behind and sometimes you realize your just a little behind, but however you look at it, you’re behind.  I remember in my 1L there was an entire Torts section on Defamation that I needed to read but I was so far behind the only way to catch up was to “skim”.

I say I used the “skim” method, but in reality, I just moved on to the next module.  If I didn’t move on I would be way to far behind to catch up.  I knew I had to do something and there just weren’t enough hours in the day to catch up.  I had faith that later in the class there would be a lull or some type of break; but there wasn’t.

When You’re Way Behind

When you find that you are way behind in your studies, don’t lose hope, don’t give up!  Take a look at the mountain in front of you and make a plan.  Pull up the syllabus for all of your classes, pull out your personal calendar, and find a way to make the two mesh.  You may have to sacrifice a few social events or find time to study during time you normally wouldn’t, like lunch, but you can make it work, you just have to have the motivation.  The further you are behind the more important it is that you have a clear plan.  Now is not the time to panic!

Take stock of how far you are behind and look at your curriculum to see where you need to be.  If you just can’t find a way to make up the work right now look ahead.   Look for spots in the upcoming future where you may be able to catch up.  If you have to skip the reading for a module now to catch back up down the road, then do it.  Find a place in the curriculum future where you can do the reading and have the time to really comprehend it.

If you are not able to find any breaks in the curriculum then break what you have skipped or missed, up into little sections.  Set a goal to read 5 pages of the missed material, or spend an extra 30 minutes listening to the lecture you missed, or plan one day in the week to utilize for the purpose of catching up.

If absolutely none of these options are possible then make yourself a reminder to cover it at the first possible time.  Set a daily reminder on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, place a sticky note on your computer.  This way, if a class is cancelled or if there is an unexpected break you can take advantage of, you immediately know what to do with it; catch up!

Sometimes you find yourself WAY behind and sometimes you realize your just a little behind, but however you look at it, you’re behind.

Whatever you do, don’t let one module or one reading stop you from progressing.  Too often we get stuck somewhere.  We didn’t do the reading and we feel we cant move forward until we complete this one task.  They are called stumbling blocks because that is what we do, we stumble on them, but don’t fall.  Skip it and move on, you can come back later.

When You’re a Little Behind

Before you get way behind you start at a little behind.  Know now, if you do not nip this in the bud you will be way behind.  A little behind can quickly grow and turn into a much larger problem, so the best way to approach being a little behind is to just buckle down and get it done.  This is the same approach you had to take as a child when you were forced to eat your vegetables; close your eyes, make a funny face, and just do it!

If you have created a schedule to keep you on task and to keep you on module then you need to re-evaluate that schedule to make sure it is still feasible.  If the goals you set for yourself are unachievable then you are setting yourself up for failure.   If it isn’t your schedule that is off track then you need to identify how it is that you fell behind.  If you can identify where you fell behind and why it happened you can avoid it in the future.

Keep attending classes; even if you are behind.  You may find that you don’t understand the entirety of the discussion but that’s OK.  When you catch back up in the reading you will begin to make sense of the class; but depending on your school, missing a class may mean missing out on light bulb moments.

Reach Out

One of the biggest problem Type A personalities have, and if your in law school your a type A personality, is reaching out.  We strive to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the strongest, so asking for help feels like weakness; and we despise weakness in ourselves.  Now is not the time to hold on to your pride.  Now is the time to reach out and ask for help.  Find out if your school has a Student Bar Association, a fraternity, study groups, student groups, join our student chat, anything.  Ask others how they caught back up after being behind, ask for tips and hints from alumni on what works and what doesn’t.  Everyone who has been through 1L is generally excited and happy to help other 1L’s; we have all been through this and understand how difficult it can be!

But the most important thing to remember is:  DON’T GIVE UP.  Keep powering through the coursework, keep progressing through your reading, don’t let one module or one reading keep you stuck.  Skip it and move on, you can always come back to it later.