Hi everyone, my name is Mike Muehe and I'm a 1L from Groton, Connecticut. I just finished my undergraduate career at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, where I majored in American Studies, English, and Political Science. I'm a joint-degree student in the Historic Preservation program...
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Making It Out of the Maelstrom – Law School Finals
After a much-needed Thanksgiving break, the scene at RWU Law changed drastically. Final exams were right around the corner, a seemingly-terrifying, unique experience for us as 1Ls. The weeks began to fly by, juggling the last class assignments, editing and reviewing outlines, and reviewing outline, on top of any other responsibilities make it seem like entering final exams is like entering a giant whirlpool – a semester’s worth of work swirling around you over the two-week exam period, and ending in an exam room taking a three or four hour test. Edgar Allen Poe, in his short story “A Descent into the Maelstrom,” wrote of a character who once survived a whirlpool. He described the occurrence, “Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied [sic] convulsion - heaving, boiling, hissing - gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes except in precipitous descents.” Not unlike Poe’s story, we law students experience a similar change in waters once finals come around. But, because we made it through, I imagine students too are just as eager to tell the story of surviving the law school maelstrom. For me, it started with sprawling all of my stuff on some tables in the Architecture Library, eager to start, but no idea where to. My schedule changed drastically too; the marathons of watching The Practice and NYPD Blue turned into watching marathons of online supplement lectures and reading practice exams. Sleeping? Sure I got it, but it wasn’t restful by any means. I let myself get caught up in the anxiety of it all until one late night on campus, I realized that I, surprisingly, knew the material. As a few professors put it, it was merely just a matter of stepping back and seeing the forest through the trees (or, in the interest of keeping this maritime-related – the ocean through the waves). Whether or not I actually succeeded in this, I don’t know. But it at least took some stress off of exams. My goal for finals was to do everything possible to prepare, to leave no page unturned, no word unread. Little did I know that that is what I’d been doing since day one. Every case was read, every assignment was reviewed. One of my professors, to calm us about finals, said simply that if the work is done, good grades will follow. Then, by the end, all there was to do was simply review. After that epiphany, I tried to use my time as efficiently as possible, to study smarter, not harder, as one advisor put it. By the end, I noted things to change or improve on for next semester, and go into the exams ready to drop some knowledge. Though exams are surely nerve-racking, surviving the 3-4 hour exams are something to surely be proud about. Call me crazy, but I see finals as something to even be excited about. It’s a chance to show the professor that they taught me something this semester, and that I pushed myself as much as possible to truly learn it. While it would be premature to feel comfortable with the results of my exams, since we don’t have grades back yet, I think the semester as a whole taught me more about how to escape feeling trapped within the final exam whirlpool than I expected.