By Mary Apodaca, BARBRI Managing Director of Legal Education
I always felt a little overwhelmed during the course scheduling process. There were so many classes I wanted to take, only so many hours in my day, and deciding which classes would be most beneficial for MY path was never really clear. Going into my 3L year, I found myself wondering if I should take bar classes, practice-oriented classes or if it even mattered.
To make the process a bit easier for you, here are six questions to consider when evaluating your schedule:
Is this class required?
It may not be the class you’re looking forward to most, but if it’s required for graduation, you will want to take it sooner rather than later. By getting your required classes out of the way as soon as possible, you’ll free up your last year or last semester for electives and interesting classes. You don’t want to delay your graduation or take an unexpected summer class because you didn’t complete your requirements.
Is the class known for being difficult?
I’m not suggesting you shy away from challenging classes – some of my favorite classes were the most difficult. However, I do recommend that you avoid loading up on too many classes that are known for being hard or time-consuming at the same time. If you plan accordingly, you will be able to enjoy the class and get something out of it, rather than feeling insanely stressed and risk falling behind due to an overwhelming workload.
Will the class be beneficial for bar prep?
Many students think they must take bar classes in law school to pass the bar exam. If you’ve really struggled in a particular area or are very concerned about a specific topic, more exposure and practice can help you master the concepts. Learn more about the bar exam and what is tested.
Understanding what the bar exam tests can help you determine if there are specific areas that you’d like to get ahead of and where to strategically place your classes (such as taking bar exam related classes your last semester). That being said, your BARBRI bar prep course will prepare you for all of the substantive law tested on the bar exam, even if you’ve never previously studied a certain subject.
Will the class be beneficial for my future legal career?
As you think about your future career, ask yourself if there are classes that are aligned with your career path, either directly or with regard to the skills you’ll need. Many students benefit from classes that help make them “practice-ready” (think Advanced Writing and Research). Future employers take notice of this, which can give you a jumpstart into more assignments.
If you already know where you’ll be working, you may also want to choose a mix of classes specifically based on your firm’s needs. Consider reaching out to your future employer or someone who is in the field in which you desire to practice for class advice.
Do I like the professor?
As you already know, the professor can make or break a class. Find out who is teaching the class before you sign up. Think about the last time you took a class with that professor. Did you like their teaching style? Did you feel comfortable asking questions or going to office hours? If you haven’t had previous experience with the professor before, ask your classmates for their opinion.
Are there other options?
Before committing to a schedule, look at all the available options. Maybe you want to work in an internship/clinic, or you need to do an independent study if you’re a credit or two short. Your school likely has a lot of different ways you can pick up credits. Talk to the registrar or your advisor about your goals and what you’d like to learn. Part of their job is to help you, so make sure you are taking advantage of those resources.