Friday, August 25, 2017

First Week Impressions

Close your eyes and imagine the best version of yourself possible. That is who you really are, let go of any part of you that does not believe it. -C. Assaad

I am officially a 1L! This week was the first week of classes and to be honest with you, it was rough! I knew that being an evening division student was going to be difficult but I didn't think it was going to be this tough. Let me tell you, waking up at 7:00 am every morning and then working an 8 hour shift day - where you are dealing with difficult legal issues, clients, etc., then turn around and go to class for 2-3 hours at night is difficult but I am not discouraged. I have learned quickly that time management is EVERYTHING. My schedule for the first week went like this:

Work 9:00-5:00 pm
Torts 6:30-8:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00pm
Con Law 6:30-7:55pm
LAW (legal analysis and writing) 8:05-9:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00 pm 
Torts 6:30-8:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00 pm
LAW 6:30-8:30 pm

As an evening division student, you only have classes Monday- Thursday, see My Law School Schedule, which is awesome because no one likes Friday classes. I was grateful that I only had one late day this week but I will not be that fortunate the rest of the semester. During this week, I had so little time to read before another class or had time to myself after work. I realize that I am going to have to do all my readings on the weekend, take extensive notes, and then review them in my little break before class and after class. Now about my actual classes....

Throughout my first week, I literally felt like this:

Do not mind all the mean stares of the fish in the background. Yes, law school is competitive and sometimes the students can be snarky but in my experience so far, the students in my section are pretty nice.

During class, I was so confused and didn't know what was going on. I read the readings that were assigned before hand but I don't think I was reading the cases correctly to get all the information out of it that the teacher wanted us to get. After class discussions, I would go back and reread the case and it made much more sense to me. I hope that this feeling of confusion will go away after I have read a few cases and understand what is being asked of me to comprehend from the case.

I am still a little nervous about classes because we were cold called on, luckily I was not one of those students. The students in my class that got called on were doing great like they prepared themselves for this all summer. I, on the other hand, thought to myself, if I got called on right now and my torts professor asked me that question, I would embarrass myself because I did not know the answer. I did participate by raising my hand for the easier questions so maybe that is why my professors didn't cold call on me. Hopefully, now that I have experienced a week of classes and I know the type of questions my professor is going to ask I will read more efficiently.

To combat this confusion problem, I have decided to meet with a few students out of my section every week to go  over what we did in class. I think this is a good idea because being able to talk to other students about the material is soo helpful. Getting a different point of view on the case is important. You guys can bounce ideas off of each other, help each other understand different topics, and motivate each other. After all two or more heads are better than one.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed your week and it was not as crazy as mine! If you are in Law school, let me know how your first week went! If you have any tips or advice for me, feel free to contact me or drop them in the comment section below!

- Cindy 


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Law School Orientation

Hey, fellow readers!! I am back with another post, this time about my law school orientation. It has been an exciting week! Since, I am a part-time evening student our orientation lasted 3 days, Wednesday-Friday. Some bloggers choose to split up their orientation day posts but I am just gonna group mine into one post!

Check-In/ Welcome
So, as I stated above our orientation started in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday and all three days were mandatory. We had to meet in the lobby of the law school where we checked in and got name tags, our orientation schedule, and a cute little bag with the law school name on it. After that, we got a tour of the law school and an in depth tour of the library. Then, we had to go to little seminars on different topics.

What to expect? 
The whole week consisted of lots of icebreakers with your section, meeting your peer advisors, talks on diversity and inclusion, title IX, plagiarism, work ethic, professionalism, and that the start of your career starts now. As a typical student, I spent the time listening and trying to retain information but really I was trying to quiet my stomach because I was starving and trying to not to fall sleep from working an 8-hour shift. I know that sounds really bad but it is the truth and I am just reporting on my experiences. I will get it together during the school year by bringing snacks and trying to go to sleep earlier. 

What to wear? 
A week before orientation we got an email explaining that orientation was mandatory and that there was a dress code. We had to wear business casual wear all week which is self-explanatory. You are meeting your peers and potential mentors and want to make a really good impression! Below are pictures of the outfits I wore throughout the week! I got all of my outfits from TJ Maxx for really cheap, I would recommend them for cheap business attire. The first day, I wore a long sleeve shirt and black dress pants.  That was a mistake because it was so hot and I assumed that the classrooms were going to be air-conditioned so I switched up and wore dresses the last two days.

Day 1: Calvin Klein shirt and black dress pants 

Day 2: Tacera Dress

Day 3: Saint Tropez West Dress

School ID
Before orientation, we had to take a picture and send it to the school so that we can get our ID's printed. We could either pick it up on the first day of orientation or elect to pick it up beforehand. I elected to pick it up beforehand because our school ID also works the parking garage. I bought a commuter parking plan and I didn't want to pay for parking again. Also, I was just really excited to get my ID and couldn't wait until orientation. 

Mock Class
When we got the email that spelled out the orientation dates and the dress code, there was an attachment of a case we had to read for orientation. I immediately thought, homework already!! Our torts professor assigned us a case to read and brief to teach us how to read a case (stay tuned for that post). Anywho, I read and briefed the case as asked and I was nervous about it because I wasn't sure if I did it right or if it was how the professor wanted it. When we got into our class, he went over the case and it turns out that I did okay! The questions he was asking in class about the case, I got down on my brief. I was so proud of myself. So little tip, have a little confidence in yourself! 

Orientation was overall a really good experience for me and it made me a little less nervous to go to law school, which starts tomorrow! I am excited to start this new adventure!! Law School, here I come!

Friday, August 04, 2017

Tips and Experiences being a First Generation College Student

A first generation college student is an individual whose parents did not attend or graduate from college. A lot of times these students are the first in their family to attend college.

I am the first person to attend college out of my immediate and extended family. And I can say I am very proud of myself that I am the first person to attend and graduate college.

The journey was long and strenuous but I can finally say I made it through all those one-nighters, long school days, exam weeks, commutes, and stress. It was well worth it. I do not think that I would have gotten the opportunities that I have had today without the college experience and without my degree.

When I look back through my four years at undergrad, I can honestly say as a high school senior going into my freshman year, I didn't know what the HELL I was doing. I didn't know what was needed for the application process for college, how I was gonna do on my SAT's, how I was gonna pay for college, etc. And I didn't have a lot of help like my peers did because my parents never went to college.

I did get help from my guidance counselor at the time. In fact, I was in his office EVERY DAY! I know he and everyone else in the guidance office were very tired of seeing my face but I can say that being in his office every day and asking questions helped me out in the long run.

When I finally got all my acceptance letters back and financial aid packages, I honestly just picked the school that gave me the most money, which probably wasn't the best choice. I could have made a more informed decision but it ended up working out in my favor. Thank God! I picked the perfect school without visiting the campus or talking to the students. I just picked it based on the financial aid, which I do not recommend doing. Like I said it ended up working out in my favor but what if I ended up hating the school that I went to. Or hated the program!

During my four years in undergrad, I was dealing with the struggle of not being home enough or "deserting" my family. I went through a great deal mentally because of the "breakaway guilt." My family viewed me and still view me as their way out of poverty. My decision to pursue higher education comes with a price and sacrifice of moving away for college and leaving my family behind just so I can succeed. Of course, I will help my family when I succeed but I know it will be a struggle getting there and dealing with this guilt. I am sure I am not the only one that felt/ feels this way. That feeling that you have abandoned your family when they rely on you the most. There is a way to use that feeling as a source of strength; using the fact that I have to succeed in order to help my family has kept me going on those days that I had no strength to go on. I became driven and determined instead of guilty and somber and that is what helped me get through school. And this is what will help me get through law school. So conquer those inner-demons and tell them that you will get through this and you will succeed. Even though you think you are at a disadvantage, use that to drive you through to the finish line. 

Tips on Being a First Generation Student 

1. Ask for help! There is nothing wrong asking for help if you need it. If you don't know something ask! Whether it is student support services, your teachers, your resident assistant, other students, or even counseling services, College is a new experience for everyone so no question is a dumb question, you will not look stupid... so ask already. 

2. Join a First Generation Group! Some schools have a club or a group for first-generation students so that you can meet others just like you. Not only is it a support group to help you adjust to college life, It's also where you can meet lots of new friends. And if your school doesn't have one make one! It helps tremendously to have a group that is going through the same thing you are.

3. Get Involved! Whether it be joining a club, sports, youth group, or a sorority. Find a way to get involved on campus. Make some new friends, especially with older peers for advice etc. 

4. Create Goals!  Create small goals for yourself and make them happen. I make small goals for myself every semester and try to achieve them at the end, it makes me feel like I am doing something towards my end goal. 

5. Expect Hurdles! Going through life expecting things to be easy or to go your way, is no way to live. Not only is it not true but that can cause disappointment and discouragements when things don't end up going your way. Expect the unexpected. 

6. Involve your family! I know I got homesick and those thoughts of abandonment crept up all the time so, involve your family. Involve them in your extra curricular activities or tell them about upcoming assignments or projects. If you have younger siblings, get them involved because you're most likely going to be guiding them through the process when they are ready to go to college.

For all the first generation students out there I just want to tell you that I am proud of you! Keep working hard and achieve great things. I am rooting for you!

                                              Much Love,

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