[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]
Dear 1Ls, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… you’ve just hit the worst part of law school. Yes… I know finals are terrible… but here is the thing… you’ve now entered the WAIT for your first semester grades. This, my friends, is the true misery of law school.
This seems to be a little talked about area, so here is a small heads up on things you can do to help not ruin your entire winter break.
First, accept that you have done your best and move on!
This will feel nearly impossible after your first test. The “what ifs” scenarios will be too much. But here is the truth… it doesn’t matter. It is done. As painful (or joyful) as that is, once your exam4 timer (or whatever your testing software is) hits 0, you are done.
Did I do well? Was I able to demonstrate my knowledge sufficiently? Was I good enough? These will all be questions floating in your brain. But let’s be honest, this is law school, and as a 1L, it doesn’t matter if you did well, it matters how well you did compared to everyone else in your class because of the curve. This is the harsh truth, and why, even if you did your best, it might not get you the A. Harsh I know, but if you accept this, it will make the wait for grades better. You did what you could, and that is all the matters at this point. Worrying about it will not help.
Next, DO NOT TALK about the final!
Seriously, this is a sure way to drive yourself into madness. Once you walk out of the final, it is over, done, and there is literally nothing else you can do. If you obsess about it, it steals focus from the next final that should have 100% of your attention, or if it was your last final it could ruin the entire break. We are law students, so you’re likely a “Type A” personality, but talking about the final does not help anyone. It only stresses everyone out, makes them second guess themselves, and creates a spiral of self-doubt.
Hey… seriously I mean it!!! DO NOT DO THIS. Instead, celebrate that you just finished your first semester of law school! Because you are in for a wait…
Finally, you will not get all of your grades until January.
Yes… January. In fact, you might not receive your first semester grades until AFTER the second semester has already started. I know… I know… I am sorry.
I think I knew this before I started school, but I did not understand how this would feel. News flash, it’s horrible. After I got back home from finals, I was being asked how it went, and I had no idea. I was also trying to apply for jobs for my 1L summer job over the break, and some positions had grade requirements. Should I apply? Again, I had no idea where I stood. Simply put, the wait for grades was excruciating. But again, what you do while you wait is important.
Here is the thing… while it feels like it, your law school grades do not define you. You are awesome, and personality, office skills, and networking ability can have as big of an impact on employers as your grades in some cases. Focus what you can control, and your law school grades are not really one of those things, since it all depends on the curve. Can “bad” grades make it more difficult to get a job, sure, but “bad” is also relative. Can “good” grades help? Sure, they can get you in the door, but they do not guarantee you a 1L job.
DO NOT let the stress of grades RUIN your winter break!! You can do NOTHING about it, so just embrace the unknown, network the best you can over break, and believe in yourself. Occupy yourself with a new hobby, travel somewhere you have always wanted to, or if you are very career-focused, attend law firm networking events, or ask to meet with someone at the firm for coffee, so they can get to know you. This also matters!
I know finals are tough, but if you follow these tips, the wait for your grades will be less miserable! Let me know how you will be enjoying your break over at the @The2LLife on Twitter and Instagram!