Academic Lanes: Stop Comparing

Hello, World.

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now, but I think I wasn’t sure how to articulate what I really wanted to say about academia in relation to others. Academics are often portrayed as pretty individual, but in reality, academics can be just as competitive and troublesome as the olympic trials (okay, maybe not that competitive, but you get my point). Academics are a battle of the brains, a battle of stamina, and a battle of who can put in the most (or the least) amount of work, and manage to come out on top.

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We live in a world where having a work ethic is ridiculed, and it is somehow cool to put in less work and get a high grade. “Oh, that A I got? I wrote the paper in 20 minutes.” “I only studied for an hour for that exam the morning of, and got a 98.” And those people putting in 110%? They’re overachievers, they’re try-hards, they’re “teacher’s pets.” Why do we care so much about how much or little other people are doing? Rather than focusing on everyone else’s academic journey, I think it’s important we focus on ourselves. Making sure our routine is working for us, making sure we’re making time for mental health, for physical health, and for our general well-being.

Now that I’m in law school, the tendency to compare is so much more prominent than it’s ever been in my life. I hear people comparing notes, subtly mentioning grades, likely hoping someone will say they did worse. I also hear people shaming those who have different study habits. And the people who study, essentially, 24-7 are called annoying, gunners, and,  once again, overachievers. Now, I understand that a HUGE part of comparison derives from the curve situation. All of law school is on a curve, so no matter how great you feel you’re doing, what matters more is how everyone else did in relation to you. So, it’s natural to compare yourself, trying to see where you stand on what feels like an arbitrary line.

But similar to sayings like “keep my name out your mouth,” I kind of feel like we, the academics, need a phrase like “stay in your own academic lane, mine’s occupied.” I think friendly competition is healthy in some contexts, but I would like to see more academics striving to be the best academic they can be, without so much focus on what everyone else is doing. You want to be the best? Okay, do your strategy, and if you’re the best, that’ll be obvious. But if you being the best involves constantly ridiculing other people, you’re not the best. Or you are, but you’re an insecure version of the best. Here’s the thing… the more we criticize other people, but worse we look. It’s actually a lot more amazing when the humble people succeed. Actually, not even the humble people, but the people who just do their own thing, without having to measure up against everyone.

I don’t want to make this post too rant-y, but I will conclude by saying that it’s important to stay in your own academic lane. All academics work differently, think differently, and practice different habits, which is GOOD because that’s why academics are interesting. We can all bring a slightly different perspective or point of view. Revel in the difference.

Callie leigh

Best Bags for School

Hello, World.

I am a firm believer that a school bag can be a serious life saver. We all lose our minds a little midway through semesters, but having a good bag, where you can keep all your important stuff, and have a good organization system will at least keep one aspect of your life in check. Today, I wanted to share my top picks for bags that are both functional and stylish. If you’re going to ace a test, or conquer a semester, you should look good while doing it! And if you’re not doing as well as you hoped, at least you’ll look like you know what you’re doing! school bags

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Depending on your school level, your ideal bag might differ. For graduate level programs, a briefcase style is probably more ideal. For high school and early college years, a backpack may make your life easier. For college, especially your second half of college, a tote bag might seem more reasonable. Depending on your personality, decide which style is the most realistic and functional for you!

I used a backpack my first year of college, then I switched to a tote style the second semester of my sophomore year. I like the tote style better, as I felt it had easier access on the go. For law school, I recently invested in a leather messenger bag/briefcase style of bag with a laptop spot. Though some of the above bags seem steep in price, I would recommend investing  in a really great, sturdy bag early, and keeping it for the years you’re in school. I would also suggest choosing something more traditional or staple, like a leather or a neutral so you don’t get sick of it after a semester or year. I would definitely caution against any seasonal prints!

What bag do you use for school?

Callie leigh

How to Survive Midterms

Hello, World.

On top of interviews and school and life, I have midterms starting next week. Though, if I’m being honest, my midterms start this Friday with a history exam. I wanted to stop in and share a few pointers on how to survive midterms, and ace your exams!
First, make sure you are getting enough sleep. I know that I am essentially useless when I am sleep deprived, so making sure I’m getting plenty of sleep increases my productivity and my ability to study.

Second, drink lots of water to ensure that you’re staying hydrated. Also, in addition to water, maybe go for a run or do some cardio to get your energy out before you sit down to study. Restlessness consumes me if I don’t release a little energy before I study and my study time becomes much longer and much less productive. It’s hard to sit in a dorm room or a library when the weather is beginning to get nice, so try running around outside or something before chaining yourself to a desk.

Third, be mindful of your schedule. Know what you have coming up, know how much time things are going to take, and begin studying for an exam the day your receive the study guides. Professors give study aids for a reason, and that reason is NOT for the paper to sit at the bottom of your backpack until the night before the exam.

Fourth, plan to study a little each day for each exam you have a study aid for. In a Rory Gilmore way of studying, begin with world history (in example), and then move to the American Revolution, and when that gets to be too much, move onto American Literature. By segmenting your studying each subject will have your full attention while you’re studying it. Two solid hours of studying one subject with no break can actually decrease your retention level!

Fifth, do homework during the day so that you can relax at night and review your study materials. If you’re trying to homework at night AND study, you’re going to start feeling too overwhelmed, and become unproductive. By finishing all homework in the morning or early afternoon, you’ll have an hour to play before having to move onto study review.

Sixth, prioritize. Know what you feel least confident about, and begin each study session with that subject because when you initially begin studying you’ll be more alert than when you’re studying four hours later.

Seventh, study before AND after group study sessions. Studying before will familiarize you with the material so you aren’t going into group review cold. This may also mean that you’ll have to explain concepts to your peers, and through explanation you further your grasp on the concept. By studying after you will reinforce concepts, but also be able to study concepts that were clarified during group study. Groups can be great, but try not to rely solely on group sessions to get an A on an exam.

What are your study tips?

Callie Leigh