My name is Hala Furst, and I am a 3L. Before coming to Roger Williams I received a BA in Theatre Arts at the University of Minnesota. In the three years between graduating from college and arriving here in Bristol, RI, I worked as a hotel concierge for a luxury brand, a loan officer and mortgage...
Lies you tell yourself
Like, you’ll be able to finish two days worth of work in a Sunday afternoon. Remember back when I said that I was taking off Friday nights and all day Saturday? Yeah, that’s not happening anymore, and not just because my fellow students keep calling me out on it. Mostly because it’s just not possible. Now, I know what you prospective 1Ls are thinking: “OMG I CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT A WEEKEND!!!”. First of all, stop using all caps. It’s annoying. Second of all, yes you can. Because you’ll have other free time thoughout the week, just not necessarily on the weekends, because, let’s face it, weekends are nice and long and uninterrupted and rather lend themselves to work for exactly those reasons. I can take some me time on Thursday and Friday afternoons, or in the middle of the day and evening on Mondays and Wednesdays… it’s all about being flexible, kids. The first semester is an exercise in flexibility, in figuring out what works and what doesn’t in terms of taking notes, getting work done, going to class, surrepticiously checking your emails during lecture, you know (I’m joking. Especially if you are a professor reading this.). No one is going to tell you what is going to work best for you, although plenty of people are more than happy to volunteer their opinions. It’s up to you whether or not you are going to listen to them, but just be prepared to spend a lot of time readjusting your well-laid study plans, if you had any in the first place.
Hmmm, what else? Well there’s the lie that you can function on 4 hours of sleep a night. You can’t. Maybe for a couple of nights in a row, but beyond that you will be the walking dead, and pretty useless when a professor calls on you in class. I mean, you usually already feel helpless in the face of the Socratic Method, you really don’t want to augment the helplessness by not sleeping. So, if this means leaving the bar at 10pm instead of 1am, do it. If it means maybe not going to the bar at all, do that. If it means ignoring your friends in the cafeteria and sequestering yourself in the library between classes, then do that. Whatever it takes to make sure you’re getting enough rest to not feel like you left your brain in your other skull in the morning. (And about the Socratic Method- it’s not that bad, it just takes some getting used to. And crying. But after that, you’re fine. Seriously, it’s daunting never being right, but the sooner you realize that is the point, the more satisfied with the struggle you will be).
And finally there’s the lie about how I always follow all my own advice. I don’t. I stay out too late, and don’t sleep enough, and procrastinate and sit chatting in the caf when I know I should just go to the library. Obviously I’m writing this post because I feel guilty for going out Friday and Saturday nights. You won’t follow all of my advice either, because you’re human and because it’s counter to human nature to always do what we should, even when we can see the clear benefit. But the point is that you have to be honest with yourself about what you need to accomplish your goals, because there are a lot of factors working against you, and you want to have every weapon in your arsenal ready to take them on. As one of our professors would say, there is no place in the law for screwups. But there is a big gulf between a screwup and someone who knows how to balance their life between work and play. You just have to assess how much of each you are up for, and how much of each you are actually doing. I suggest doing that before you come to law school to see if you are ready, because one thing I won’t lie to you about it that there isn’t a lot of time to do so once you’re here.