Online law school can be a dream come true, an opportunity to become an attorney that never would have been available until the internet, but it can also be seriously defeating. Where once you could ride through classes getting A’s and B’s without cracking a book the new normal is a 65.
You Haven’t Truly Arrived Until You Cry In Class
I remember the day that I had my very first complete meltdown in law school. We had just finished up our beginning section of Formation and were moving into Performance. I had been doing quite well, according to law school standards, getting 65’s on essays and I really felt like I understood the subject matter. Then it all collapsed. We had a timed one hour essay. You don’t know what the essay will be on until you begin so all you can do is prepare the very best for anything they throw at you.
I logged on to my class, clicked the begin essay link, and there it was, an essay on Performance. I went into auto-pilot, I started writing in Formation. I flew through my formation analysis and then my brain hit a wall. I could not fathom how I could transition out of Formation into Performance. At this point about 45 minutes had gone by and I had 15 minutes to finish this essay on Performance and I hadn’t even begun. I hurriedly began writing the most awkward and substantively wrong thing I think I have ever written, crying the whole time.
I submitted the essay and that’s when the “I should quit”, “I will never be this smart”, “Who did I think I was?” thoughts started swimming through my head. All the negative thoughts I had successfully kept locked in a basement in my mind began banging at the consciousness in my head. At this point I would have thrown in the towel if it weren’t for the things in my life that motivates me. For all of us this motivation is different.
It has been my experience working with students who attend online Law school that the decision to go to law school did not come lightly. Most of us are highly motivated by something; whether that be justice, knowledge, a better life, it doesn’t matter, we are highly motivated.
The things that motivated you to enroll in law school are the same things that will drive you to make it through the rough spots in law school. After I cried for a good 30 minutes over a stupid essay I reminded myself why I was in law school, my goals, why I had embarked on this journey in the middle of a career and at the age of 35. I was going to be making a better life for my family, no one would ever take advantage of me again, and no one would ever tell me again I didn’t understand. Yeah, I have been a “know-it-all” since age 2.
Do something that pushes your boundaries, something that you wouldn’t ordinarily do. Take a calculated risk and allow yourself to crumble a little.
Keep what motivates you close. Write down the reasons you went to law school and place those in the front of your class binders, post it on your mirror, make it your computer screen saver. Once your in law school it is hard to see the forest from the trees.
You CAN Do This
On top of all the trials and tribulations you will face with grades, substantive knowledge, and just substance you will also have to face the real world. Sometimes, often, the real world can be more defeating than law school can. You will face the naysayers, the one’s who do not want to see you succeed. I often use the analogy of the co-workers to explain this phenomenon. If you announce to your co-workers you are on a diet and are working out, they immediately have it out for you. If you start losing weight and being successful it will directly correlate with the amount of free donuts brought by your coworkers. Keep your goals in mind, keep your motivating factors at hand, and don’t let the naysayers win!
If you made it this far then you have more stamina and nerve than most. Others will see those positive aspects in you and want to have them in themselves, but these qualities do not just show up overnight. These qualities are grown, manicured, and worked on over a life time. It can be very hard to look at someone who is doing what they want, living their dream and not feel jealous. I equate it to standing next to the super toned person at the gym, no one wants to work out next to that guy, it just reminds you of how much work you have to do. This is how everyone will feel about you; your doing it!
On top of having to deal with people you will also have to face financial stress. Online law school costs money just like everything else and you will have to sacrifice things to make those payments. Everyone’s financial situation is different but for some this will be one of the hardest hit points in attending law school. Just remember, you are eating like a college freshman again so you will never have to again. In the words of my mother, “This too will pass”. These words have kept me going through many turmultous events.
My mothers words, “This too will pass” is one of those motivating factors for me. I have the words written on various pieces of paper in my notes, on notes, on books, in headings and margins. Anytime I feel like there is just too much going on, the weight on my shoulders is just too much, or that I will never be successful, I write these words to remind me, “This too shall pass”!
Ways To Deal
There are many different methods to try and use to keep yourself motivated. Nothing works 100% on everyone so you may have to try a few things before you find a method that works for you. Try and be open to methods that you have previously thought were silly or would never work, you never know until you try.
Here are a few quick ways to motivate yourself.
- Try closing your eyes and visualizing your success or try sleep hypnosis (these can be found on youtube)
- Try studying in different places to mix it up, go outside, go to a park, try something new
- Stay positive, if you find yourself becoming negative remove yourself until the funk resides
- Talk to someone, whether this be a friend in law school or a family member, talk to someone who will motivate you and remind you of how far you have come.
Remember, there are many different ways to stay motivated and keep a positive outlook. If the methods above don’t work for you don’t give up, find something else.
The Queen Bee of 1L