Advice for part-time, evening students?

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jeffcooon
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Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby jeffcooon » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:28 am

Hi all,

I'm currently a part-time, evening student. My weekday schedule goes:

6:30 AM - WAKE UP
--1 hour COMMUTE TO WORK
8 AM - 5 PM work
--COMMUTE TO SCHOOL/re-read briefs and prepare for class
6 PM - 8 PM class
--1 hour COMMUTE HOME/Break/EAT/Shower/Take care of home stuff
10:30 PM - sit down for study.

After a long day, I just have hard time sitting down at 10:30 PM and squeeze in those good 1 1/2 to 2 hours of studying. My concentration level is rock-bottom and my ambitious will-power is also abysmal. I usually end up watching golf videos or reading nytimes/wikipedia surfing. I think being at home is a trigger that allows myself to distract myself, but there's no cafe or lib nearby that opens till late.

Of course, my weekend is besides eating, working out, or church, it's all dedicated to reading cases/thinking.

Any word of advice to get myself disciplined for late night studying?

Fed_Atty
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby Fed_Atty » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:54 am

I was an evening student that worked part-time. It is a grind, no way around it. For me, the key was to maximize efficiency. I had great success listening to the sum and substance audio CDs for the classes (my commute was via car - so reading and writing was out - may be different if you commute via mass transit). I would listen to them over and over. Each one is about 6 hours, so you will move through them relatively quickly with an hour commute each way. In the end, you can't help but memorize big chunks. The caution is that each professor teaches subjects differently, particularly those based largely on case law (Con Law, Property, Torts, Crim Law) etc. However, for subjects like Civ Pro, Evidence, Bankruptcy, Secured Transactions etc., that are largely based on statutes and regulations the differences between professors are smaller, in my opinion.

Additionally, if things were slower at work, I would try to get some studying or legal writing in. Good luck - the one thing that you can't control is that some of your classmates will have more time than you. Some are working part time or not at all but for whatever reason are attending part time.

realdocuments
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby realdocuments » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:46 pm

spam

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haus
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby haus » Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:34 am

I do not have much in the line of advice, but I wanted to offer my sympathy.

I am a part-time student, with a somewhat unpredictable job (InfoSec, incident response), a long commute (round trip which averages ~3 hrs/day), and a family.

This is my third year, and I too have become a fan of audio supplements where I can find them, as they are a good way to make use of the commute time, especially when ramping up towards exams.

It can be tough when squeezed for time, but try to keep in mind it is a long run, pace yourself, and good luck.

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chicharon
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby chicharon » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:09 am

Take a ten-minute nap when you get home. If you wake up after ten minutes, great--get to work. If not, then you'll know that your brain was too tired to study and you will at least have eight (or so) hours of sleep under your belt.

One great piece of advice I got at the beginning of PT 1L was to finish all readings for the week, on the weekends. Not only do you get all the reading done, but you will also hopefully get better, faster at figuring out what's important.

9xSound
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby 9xSound » Tue Oct 17, 2017 6:51 pm

OP,
I was a part-time evening student with a full-time career position. It was a grind, but I got through it and passed the bar. You can, too. Like you, I had a one-hour commute each way. I listened to Fleming or I listened to myself reading the rules on homemade CDs. For four years, I had no life except work and school. By the time I got home at night, I was too mentally exhausted to read. I did most of my reading on the weekend and at lunch - whenever I could fit it in. That said, I read every single case during 1L, but it was a total waste of time, as I figured out later. You don't need to read the cases word for word. Just buy the professional briefs that are keyed to your casebooks. You need to study smart. The briefs will get you straight to the point of the case with about 1/4 of the reading. The rest of your study time in law school (the vast majority of it) should be focused on preparing for exams, not reading cases: (1) develop your outlines and understand them; (2) memorize the rules, element by element; (3) review model answers from prior exams, if they're available; and (4) write as many practice exams as you possibly can, analyzing each element and concluding on it one at a time. Get feedback on your papers from your profs or somebody who knows what they're doing. The name of the game is to pass your final exam. Use your limited time wisely.

jeffcooon
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby jeffcooon » Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:39 pm

Thanks guys for the input.

I definitely agree with the part about not having to read all the cases.

While outlining for my classes, I just realized that there are some classes in which I didn't have to read the case and was still able to understand rules/concepts fully from class notes/commercial briefs. I definitely feel guilty when I'm not doing enough as the other students from my section.

Time and time again, I must also tell myself that it's about learning facts + applying legal rules.

It's a grind. I think of it as a trade-off.

9xSound
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby 9xSound » Fri Oct 20, 2017 5:01 pm

Make issue checklists to memorize for your exams. Write out your list quickly on the scratch paper before you start reading the first fact pattern. As you outline each essay, run down the list looking for issues that might be appropriate to discuss. This can help you spot issues that other students will miss.

As an evening student living an hour's drive from school, I did not participate much in study groups. I sat in on two. Total waste of time. The first one was mostly one blowhard showing off how much he knew while the rest of us struggled to articulate our names. The only other study group I ever participated in was organized by a girl that I wanted to get to know. I got to know the girl very well, but I didn't get jack from her study group. Learning the law as a night student with a full-time job is a pretty lonely business. Get alone. Shut the door. Open the books. Study. Do it whenever you aren't at work. It gets easier if you survive the first year, but that first year is a real adjustment.

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CountingBlue
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby CountingBlue » Sun Oct 22, 2017 7:57 pm

I second the point about studying on the weekend. You have to have epic endurance to retain knowledge after a full work day, commute, and classes. I could get at most 4 hours of studying during the week. To me it wasn't worth the trouble when I could just make up the time by being a little more organized with my weekend.

jeffcooon
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby jeffcooon » Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:51 pm

9xSound wrote:Make issue checklists to memorize for your exams. Write out your list quickly on the scratch paper before you start reading the first fact pattern. As you outline each essay, run down the list looking for issues that might be appropriate to discuss. This can help you spot issues that other students will miss.

As an evening student living an hour's drive from school, I did not participate much in study groups. I sat in on two. Total waste of time. The first one was mostly one blowhard showing off how much he knew while the rest of us struggled to articulate our names. The only other study group I ever participated in was organized by a girl that I wanted to get to know. I got to know the girl very well, but I didn't get jack from her study group. Learning the law as a night student with a full-time job is a pretty lonely business. Get alone. Shut the door. Open the books. Study. Do it whenever you aren't at work. It gets easier if you survive the first year, but that first year is a real adjustment.


What's an issue checklist? I hear it often but what goes into that? Could you provide an example?

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elendinel
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby elendinel » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:41 am

I did all my reading on Sundays/maybe sometimes during the week depending on what I didn't get done on Sunday (so I third saving studying for the weekend, as much as possible). My 1L year I wrote briefs for every case so I'd remember the case even if I didn't discuss it until Thursday; my enthusiasm for this waned after 2L year, but it definitely helped me organize reading of cases, which helped me in later years. I made my outlines at the end of the semester 1L year, then promptly moved to making them in class in lieu of detailed notes 2L year onward. At some point I'd read cases on the train (I had scanned copies of a lot of my books), but I stopped; my commute was one of the few breaks I got, so I'd just play games, take a nap, whatever.

Once I got more comfortable reading cases, I'd skim cases I didn't get to on Sunday in class (before, during other people's cold calls, during breaks, etc.) and use free online briefs/Wikipedia to supplement when available. I made briefs (facts, issue, rule, holding, reasoning) while we discussed the cases by summarizing what people were saying, or would at least make a blank brief so I'd know to go back to the case later when I had time to study for the final. I'd also book brief literally just by highlighting in different colors (facts = one color, rule = another color, etc.), because there was no way I was going to remember why something was important unless I used an easily recognizeable code. Once the professor gave the facts and the black letter law, I'd add that to the outline and move on. Doing most of the outline during class helped a lot, especially since you can only take off so much time from work to study for finals, and at least for me, writing the outline alone wasn't the most effective way to study.

Outside of that, it's just a lot of learning to time manage and accepting that you won't have much of a life outside of school and work. And a lot of accepting that you can't be 100% all the time, that you have to prioritize what's important and what's not, and that sometimes you'll have to do that analysis day-by-day. Don't forget to list yourself as a priority.

9xSound
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby 9xSound » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:18 pm

jeffcooon wrote:What's an issue checklist? I hear it often but what goes into that? Could you provide an example?


An issue checklist is simply a comprehensive list (more or less) of issues and sub-issues that might come up on your test. Your list could be different than mine, depending upon which issues you needed to remind yourself not to miss. I tended to organize my checklists according to the legal flow of essays in that particular subject. So for contracts, my list started something like this:

UCC
Merchants

O
Revocation
Rejection
Counter
Firm

A
Silence
Performance

C
Past

D
SOF
Mistake
etc.

The above is not a real list: it's merely illustrative. Make your list the way it makes sense to you. Memorize it forwards and backwards. No checklist should take more than one page. If it does, it's too long and loses its utility. When you know the subject matter, major issues will jump out at you when you read the facts. A checklist is intended to trigger the sub-issues, issue clusters, and subtle, "hidden" issues that could make the difference between an A and a lesser grade. Don't write out rules, just issues. Some use very brief lists or none at all. Mine tended to be fairly comprehensive, if only because I felt more comfortable having every possible issue in front of me. But when the proctor says, "Go," your mind can start to race. Writing that checklist down before crowding your mind with how Andy and Bill agreed to rob Vicky will reduce panic and give you a game plan to follow for the whole test. Develop shorthand for each issue. Practice writing the list over and over, right up to the last minute. The importance of a good checklist cannot be overstated.

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Leprechaun
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Re: Advice for part-time, evening students?

Postby Leprechaun » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:57 am

I don't have advice to help you get disciplined but I do have advice on how to do law school. I was a PT evening student as well.  As long as being prepared for class is not a component (or significant component) of your grade, the first thing I would do is drop your class prep and get some valuable sleep when you get home rather than worrying about studying.  Pay attention in class and listen to what the professor finds important.  Your goal is to do well on the final, not to be Socrates in class.  My last 2.5 years of law school (I took 3.5 years to complete the PT program) I did ZERO for class prep with the exception of about 3 classes and I got along just fine.  As the exam approaches, get outlines that are professor specific from students that have been there and done that and use those to prep.  I didn't waste time building my own outlines either.  Get to know your profs and build yourself a support network of friends and profs.     I worked full time as County Auditor (averaged about 45 hours a week), commuted 45 minutes each way to school and back 4 nights a week, have a wife and two kids, and still found time to do things like travel with them on the weekend, fly off to see my undergrad school play football quite frequently, etc etc.  Once I made it through 1l year my life got substantially better as I realized I was working WAY too hard prepping for school.    Again, the key is to be ready for Finals, not class.  Once I figured that out, law school became fun for me.    Good luck to you.  Don't burn yourself out.  Enjoy the journey and don't let it get to you.  Control law school rather than having it control you and it will be better for you and everyone that is important to you.




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