Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Semester Law School Grades

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

My classmates and I are beginning to get our grades back from our first semester of law school. Some of us are getting grades we did not expect -- both good and bad. It is the first time in my life to be a part of a group where everyone is so concerned about their performance and class ranking. It almost makes me miss engineering...

One tip to my fellow classmates: Regardless of how well or poorly you did, don't let it go to your head. Your grades are not your identity, nor are they your destiny. Don't start thinking of yourself as better or worse than others based on your class rank. Either approach is likely to make you into a very miserable person.

If you did well this semester, enjoy your success, stay humble, and keep working hard. If things didn't go so well, learn from this experience , pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and jump back into the fray. One of the best ways to truly succeed in life is by discovering how to learn from failure.

Here is some wise advice from someone who has been there before:

Look, guys, I got a C- and a C+ my first semester of law school. (And two A-s and a B+, to be complete). I was 22nd in the class after that. The next semester I got two As, a couple of A-s, and another B+, and I was 4th in the class. I just kept moving up, and I graduated first. So it's not hopeless. You're not destined to have dismal grades for the rest of your law school career. They needn't hold you back.

Stop gnashing your teeth about what these grades MEAN about who you are and what you're capable of and what the Rest of Your Life is limited to. You are just as smart as you were the day before you got your grades. And now you know something you didn't know before: what to expect from law school exams.

March your butt into your professors' offices and sit down with the exam and talk to them about it. We all know you studied your head off, but did you articulate what you knew, or did you study the wrong stuff, or did you have trouble identifying the issues, or were you a disorganized mess, or did you confuse the terminology, or what? Whichever one(s) it was, you're going to fix it next semester. The professor will help you, if you ask. And now you know to ask.

In an earlier post, she writes:

...everyone's just figuring all this stuff out, and so how you prepared for, took, and scored on first semester exams is not an accurate predictor of how you are going to do in law school or in life. It just isn't. Now you have a clue about what to do and how to study and what to expect -- you didn't before. So quit freaking out and turn your attention to the fascinating and baffling topics they're asking you to learn THIS semester. You are just as smart and full of potential as you were in September. Smarter, in fact. Go learn.

If a man with no legs can almost make it into the Olympics as a sprinter, what's your excuse for not picking yourself back up?

See also:


thinking said...

So how did you do? Don't leave us hanging like this :)

Anonymous said...

thank you so much!