Stylish Academic’s Guide to Prepping for Finals Early

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Hello, World.

Even though it’s only September, the months in a given semester go quickly, so I wanted to offer my advice regarding how to prep for finals early. This is sort of an extension of my post about steps to better grades. In law school, your final grade is solely based on your final exam. So, it’s wise to begin prepping for final exams early. However, if you just start studying for finals, you’ll likely burn out and lose momentum when you should be kicking into high gear (aka mid-November). So, I’m sharing my top three tips that can accompany my three tips to better grades.

  1. Talk about the material with friends and family. Discussing material aloud with other people will allow you to gauge how well you know the material. I had a criminal law TA who said, “I taught the course to my wife. Teaching it to someone who had minimal understanding allowed me to understand the material, find the areas that I didn’t get as well, and solidified my ability to discuss it, which helped the essay portion of the exam.” This advice was some of the best that I received my first year of law school. My sweet mother talked to me for five hours on the phone as I walked through my torts outline. This process was long and tedious, but I knew which areas I needed help with before the exam. Discussing the material with others throughout the semester will kick-start finals review.
  2. Take “reading notes” and “class notes.” Some people do this, but some people only really take reading notes or rely primarily on class notes. Personally, I find having reading notes that I take based on what I think is important from the reading and separate class notes based on what the professor thinks is important allows me to see where I’m missing points or if I’m pulling out the right highlights of the reading. If I’m not, there’s a chance I will miss points on the exam because my professor and I aren’t considering the same facts important. Ninety percent of a law school exam is issue spotting (they make you think it’s analysis. Let me just say: if you don’t spot the issue, you cannot do the analysis). Recognizing how your professor reads or addresses legal issues is key to getting a high grade on the exam.
  3. Outline beginning at the end of October. You’ll hear a lot of different things in terms of outlining. You may even wonder, “what the hell is an outline?” An outline is just what it sounds like — an outline of the course. You go through major concepts, tests, etc. and outline the course as it is taught to you. I prefer outlining later rather than earlier. Some people disagree, which is fine, but I find that whatever I outline last is what I remember most. If you begin too early, it’s not as fresh because you probably won’t look at the beginning of your outline until a week or so before the exam. Outlining later forces you to review early concepts and understand how and where they fit in the whole course (spoiler alert: sometimes outlines are best ordered different than how you learn the material).

How do you prep for class or finals?

Truly,

Callie leigh

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A Day In My Life

Hello, World.

I thought it would be interesting if I shared what a typical day in my life is like. I get a lot of questions about law school, and what it really looks like. I know a lot of people watch movies about it or have heard the horror stories, but I think its hard to know what law school is actually like until you’re in it. I will also give a general disclaimer – law school can vary based on school, location, and personality type. All students handle law school a little differently. While this is my “daily life” as a law student, it looks different than both my roommates and most of my friends. We all have (slightly or very) different routine. I don’t really think there’s a best way to law school. As long as you are doing well, you’re doing something right.

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So, let’s dive into my day:

Anywhere from 6:00 am – 8:00 am: Wake up.

I realize this is  a large range. I will say I usually get up around 7:15, but some days I get up a bit early to do reading and other days I sleep in a bit later if I need to. I will often wake up at 7-ish, and lay in bed, checking my email, looking at Instagram, and reading the Skimm.

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7:45 am or 8:00 am to 8:45 am: Shower, get dressed, do makeup and hair, make bed.

This also probably seems like a while. While I get ready, I often watch Youtube videos, listen to makeup, make a to do list for the day.

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8:45 am – 9:30 am: take final notes, plan my day, and eat breakfast.

I listen to music, eat my breakfast (usually avocado toast, sometimes oatmeal with banana), and fill out important things in my calendar. I also double check my calendar, and update it if needed.

9:30 am – 10:00 am: go to law school for class.

I try to leave the house at a similar time each day, and everyday my first class is at 10:00 am. The rest of my can vary a LOT, depending on what classes I have that day. I tried to pick the schedule that tends to be most consistent, though.

10:00 am – 12:45 pm: Classes.

On Wednesdays I have my writing class and Constitutional law in the morning.

12:50 pm – 1:50 pm: Lunch Hour

William and Mary Law doesn’t have classes during this hour, so there are a lot of lunch meetings. Sometimes I will go see speakers, sometimes I will get work done in the cafe, and sometimes I will run off campus to get a coffee and lunch. My lunch hour tends to vary.

2:00 pm – 3:15 pm: Class

In the afternoon, I have property. Last semester I had torts at this time. I’m not a huge fan of afternoon classes, but unfortunately they are very common in law school.

3:30 pm – 5:00 pm: change, go to gym.

I usually spend a good portion of the afternoon getting in a good workout. I bike and use the elliptical most days. Some days I do squats, lunges, crunches, etc. I try to mix up my routine everyday because I get bored when I do the same sequence.

5:15 pm – 6:30 pm: cook dinner, eat, do some email management while I eat or watch Gilmore Girls (or whatever else I feel like watching).

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6:30 pm – 7:45 pm: read/do work.

This time is usually spent reading for my classes, outlining if its later in the semester, or working on a memo for my writing class.

7:45 pm- 8:00 pm: get snack/dessert.

Usually lactose free cookies and cream ice cream or popcorn.

8:00 pm – 9:30 pm: read/do work

See above!

9:30 pm – 11:00 pm: call home, watch Netflix, browse social media.

At the end of a long day, I light candles in my room, get into bed, and will usually begin winding down by calling my family. I talk to them for a bit, then watch Netflix while browsing social media (usually Instagram).

11:05 pm: lights out.

There you have it! I tend to try to stay pretty consistent, so even if my days don’t look exactly alike, my weeks are all pretty similar. I have a slightly altered routine for each day, depending on course schedule and meetings.

I hope this was interesting!

Truly,

Callie leigh

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.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Top Apps That Every College Student Should Have

Hello, World.

Today’s society, as many of you probably already know, is riddled with technology. We cannot escape it, and we are often glued to our iPhones. I mean, there are millions of apps available at our fingertips, and I know that I personally check Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter every fifteen minutes. I justify my obsession as a “study break,” but I know that’s basically the same as a heroin addict saying he or she is taking a break from “the real world.” I’ve been thinking, though, about all these apps, and which apps I use the most, and which come in handy the most when I am in school. So, I thought it would be fun to share the top apps for college students. There are hundreds of apps that all do essentially the same thing, with a few features that vary, but I wanted to share the apps that I use, and that I have come to believe to be the best.
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First, iStudiez Pro. This app is a scheduling app for classes. You can add your professors, classes, class times, office hours for professors, room locations, any assignments, etc., and the app will track it for you, sending you reminders 15 minutes before class, making your professor’s office location available within seconds so you don’t have to refer to a syllabus or get online while walking to your appointment or class. Having assignments available by class is also super helpful, and a nice backup to planners and the calendar in your phone. I have a very anal personality, so I like to triple check everything, and this app definitely helps me keep deadlines, assignments, and meetings straight!
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Second, Clear is a great app for making sure you accomplish everything you have in the day. It’s basically a to-do list-making app. You can swipe items off your list as you finish them, and arrange them by color in order of importance. I always make lists, especially to-do lists when life is too crazy to even think straight, so it’s super handy.

Third, Chegg. Every college student knows how annoyingly expensive textbooks are, and Chegg is a great resource for finding cheap, used textbooks. I tend to buy new copies of books for my Major classes, and buy all general ed class books used, with the intention of selling them back at the end of the semester. When in need of cheap textbooks, check out this app before looking at amazon.com or barnes and noble.com.
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Fourth, Evernote. This app goes well with Clear and iStudiez Pro. In this app you can make a checklist, add reminders, take snapshots of notes written on classroom boards, or create a notebook directly on your phone. This app also has a market store that sells great school supplies!

Fifth, Pandora. I love this app because I HAVE to listen to music when I do homework. If I’m doing some really serious studying I will either not listen to music or listen to classical music. Sometimes while I’m studying I listen to Epic Movie scores because they’re, well, epic.
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Sixth, Groupon. Since college is expensive, and doing fun things usually requires spending some money, this app is a great way to save money. It offers hundreds of coupons. If you want to do an activity with friends, but can’t quite decide what to do, you can check this app and see if there are any great deals at places that sound fun. I had a friend who used a Groupon to get fondue with friends. I can’t have fondue, but it’s still awesome, and there are even better deals!

Seventh, MyFitnessPal. Dining Hall food is fattening. There is a reason the freshmen 15 exists. There is also the fact that more people start drinking more or start eating more than usual because there are entire sections of the dining hall dedicated to cake, donuts, etc. There is also an increase in soda and coffee consumption because of the need for caffeine. All of these things may taste awesome, but are also pretty unhealthy. When I entered college, I desperately wanted to avoid the 15. I had two plans, first, I planned to lose 15 pants prior to starting college so that if I gained 15 pounds I would be my normal size. Or, second, I would simply watch what I ate, and work out more frequently. The second plan was the route I took. This app will help you monitor calories, workouts and the calories burned, and ensure that you’re body is remaining healthy.
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Eighth, NikeTraining. I recently started using this app, so I don’t have quite as much to say. What I do know is that it will help you to structure a workout routine! I put in my current weight, height, etc., then put in that I’m a beginner and that my goal is that I want to get lean. You can change this based on how frequently you workout so beginner, intermediate, and pro. Then set your goal based on if you want to get lean, strong, or toned. Based on what you plug in, it plans out a month-long workout routine for you to follow every day. I was also excited because it incorporates yoga!

Ninth, Hautelook. I love clothing, as you probably know, but it’s hard to buy clothes when I’m in school, trying to pay for all those expenses and whatnot. Hautelook is Nordstrom Rack at your fingertips. It’s great for shopping, while still saving money. It has so many brands, and allows you to stay fashionable while going to school. This app has a ton of great deals, and although its not academic, it’s still awesome for people who want to be able to shop and buy new clothing for less (especially if you’re avoiding the 15).

Other apps I like? Amazon, Spotify, A Beautiful Mess, and Picstitch! College is about academics, yes, but it’s also a social experience, and music, photos, etc. are still important parts of everyday life! What apps do you like?

Truly,
Callie Leigh