Academics News

Academic Success Tip - Handling Pressure

Use a reward system to keep your motivation up.  Decide small rewards for yourself for completion of small tasks.  Small rewards might be:  a bubble bath; one ½-hour television show; one computer game; popcorn; a walk with the dog; a play break with your child.  Decide large rewards for yourself for completion of large tasks: a night at the movies; dinner with friends at a nice restaurant; two hours reading a novel; a new outfit; attending Lawlapalooza!  When you have a reward to look forward to, you are more likely to stay motivated in completing your work.
 

Academic Success Tip - Handling Pressure

Determine your current areas of confusion and get help now.  Concepts often build on one another – if you wait too long, you will be hopelessly lost.  Review your case briefs and class notes and determine what questions you have at this time.  Talk with classmates who understand the material.  Ask professors questions.  Use a study aid to clarify a topic. 

Academic Success Tip - Handling Pressure

Do not waste valuable study time between classes.  Take a hard look at how you use the ½-hour, 1-hour, and 2-hour chunks of time during your day when you are not in class.  If you spend all of that time chatting with friends or running errands or deciding what to do next, you will automatically make your evening more stressful because you have accomplished nothing during the day on your reading or other projects.

Take Advantage of Campus Health Services

Flu Shots - Free seasonal flu shots will be available September 21-23, at the Miller IT Center, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and September 28-30, at the SAC Bookstore, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  In addition, on October 7, Campus Health will be at the Law School from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to give law students, faculty, and staff free flu shots.

Massages - Back and neck massages will be offered to students on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., at the Office of Health Promotion (between the SAC and Houchens).  30-minute massages for $6!  Sign up at the Health Promotion Office and pay with check or credit card.

Yoga - Improve your back and neck health through yoga.  This special class will feature personalized instruction, equipment provided.  Five sessions will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 1:00 p.m., for only $15.  Sign up and pay at the Health Promotion Office.

Academic Success Tip - Handling Pressure

It is amazing that we are beginning the sixth week of the semester!  Some of your professors may have started to speed up in class and cover more pages.  You may be working on your first graded writing assignment for BLS, preparing for a practice exam, studying for a mid-term, or all of the above.  What can you do to re-group after these first five weeks if you are feeling pressured by the workload or are worrying that you are already behind in your studying?  This week's tips will provide suggestions on how to handle pressure.  

  • Do not stop reading for classes because you have other projects or assignments due soon.  Carve out time for the projects around your reading for classes.  If you focus on papers or projects and ignore class reading, you will then be confused in class and behind in your reading.  If you are having trouble finding time for both reading and other tasks, make an appointment with the Director of Academic Success for help with time management. 

MPRE

Are you planning to take the MPRE in November?  The regular application receipt deadline is September 28.  For more information, please see the attached information sheet and visit www.ncbex.org.

Academic Success Tip - Using Graphics in Your Outlines

When you supplement your course outlines this weekend, consider what graphics may work for you to help with the bigger picture, the analysis, and the synthesis of the material; some examples of graphics are:

  • Tables with material in rows and columns
  • Decision trees – flow charts with questions and yes/no choices to work through the analysis
  • Tree diagrams – the main concept is the trunk and the sub-topics (and beyond) branch off
  • Legal diagrams – the main concept starts in the center of the page and lines connect outwards to the sub-topics and beyond
  • Balloon diagrams – similar to the legal diagram using balloons to hold concepts and sub-topics instead of lines alone
  • Mind mapping – use pictures and shapes to brainstorm about the interconnections
  • Venn diagrams to show the overlap between several concepts
  • Time lines for chronological events
  • Columns of material to show connections and progression

Academic Success Tip - Tackling a Writing Project

Do you have a writing assignment to complete but can't seem to find the focus to get the project started?  Consider these tips for more focused writing:

  • Make sure you understand the parameters of the assignment before you begin – ask the professor if you are unsure
  • Brief cases that you will use; make notes on general reference volumes that you have found; consider how you will use each source for the paper or project
  • Outline your thoughts and the supporting materials before you start writing so that you will be more focused and clear
  • Divide the paper or project into smaller sections and focus on one piece at a time while you write
  • Review what you wrote previously for a section before you continue writing that section at a later time
  • Review other sections that inter-relate before you start to write a new section
  • Keep a pad handy to write down reminders about thoughts you have on other sections (or other tasks entirely) so that you can re-focus quickly on your task at hand
  • Edit in stages rather than looking for everything at once: grammar and punctuation; depth of analysis; logic; clarity; writing style

Academic Success Tip - Reading Cases

To improve your understanding and recall of the cases you read, consider these tips:  

  • Read your cases at the times of day when you are most alert and productive and save “lighter” study tasks for other times
  • Read the subject that is most difficult (or that you find least interesting) first each day so that you are your most alert and finish it early in the day
  • Create a context for reading the case through a quick survey before you read:  what is the topic; what is the sub-topic; what court are you in (federal or state; level of appeal); what are the party categories (buyer and seller of land; buyer and seller of widgets); what is in dispute; what is the holding (now you know the issue and its answer); what questions has the casebook editor included at the end
  • Divide what you are reading into small “chunks” – paragraphs on facts; paragraphs on procedural history; paragraphs on precedent; paragraphs about policy
  • Ask yourself questions about the chunk as you read to keep yourself interested and to draw out the most important points
  • Write margin notes to distill the chunk to the most important points
  • Re-read only the chunk you are on if you lose focus
  • Prepare a brief after you read the entire case to see if you understand the case AND the bigger picture of this case in relationship to other cases and the topic

Academic Success Tip - Improve Your Focus

Do you ever feel that you have put in time but do not understand or recall anything that you heard in class or read in your casebook?  Do you ever “zone out” during class or study time?  One of the most essential study skills is the ability to focus.  Here are some general tips that you might want to consider:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night so that your brain cells can be ready to work productively for you
  • Take short 5- or 10-minute breaks every 90 minutes of studying
  • Take a 30-minute break after you have been studying for 3 or 4 hours
  • Take a short 5-minute break if you completely lose your focus and cannot get it back with more active study strategies: asking questions; reciting out loud; talking with someone else about the material
  • Find a setting where you can study without interruptions or distractions
  • Have all of your supplies and study materials gathered and ready for use before you sit down to study
  • Eat a light snack before studying to assuage hunger pangs: an apple; a box of raisins; a handful of nuts; a granola bar
  • Use ice water to keep you alert instead of coffee or sodas