How Can Non-Traditional Law Students Succeed?
Often times, when you picture a law student or see them depicted in movies, you are looking at a young, single, ambitious person at the start of their career. However, you may be surprised to find how diverse a law school student body actually is! Students that fall outside of the “K-JD” (meaning kindergarten through high school, then straight to undergrad and law school without any gaps) pipeline are generally considered “non-traditional.” These students are often older,have families, and possibly even other degrees or careers under their belt. Their ages may range from 25 to 75+ years old!
Non-traditional law students come to law school with more experience in their personal and professional lives. In this post, we’ll discuss how non-traditional law students succeed in law school!
How Can Non-Traditional Law Students Succeed?
Non-traditional students will often be financially independent of their parents. They may be coming to school with mortgages, car payments, and many other responsibilities. Many non-traditional students have children, or others may be caregivers. A non-traditional student comes in many forms, but all face similar challenges. However, every non-traditional student can find a way to succeed in law school! Here we discuss how to make that happen.
Time management is essential for each and every law student. However, non-traditional students will walk into the classrooms holding a fair amount of personal responsibility outside of their studies. Therefore, time management is absolutely key.
Younger students will more than likely have far more free time, which leaves flexibility for studying. However, that is not the case for students that have kids to pick up from school and house bills that need paying. To ensure your success in law school, invest in a great planner that allows you to clearly, and precisely break up your time. Be sure to schedule all personal appointments first and then fill in your study schedule after. Whatever time you have available to study, make it work!
And, most importantly, stick to your schedule. All the effort of scheduling your day will not matter much if you don’t actively reference and rely on your planner.
Start Your Outlines Early
Every law student should start their outline early, but we understand this doesn’t always happen. However, this is imperative for non-traditional students who may face stricter time restrictions during finals. Your outline is going to be the key to success for exam day. A law student with a wide-open schedule may have the time to cobble one together just before finals. As a non-traditional student, it will be near impossible for you to do the same. Spare yourself the stress and start outlining early. This will leave more time for memorization and practice exams during review week. Outlining early will also provide you with constant review of class material throughout the semester, simplifying your exam preparation.
Check out our in-depth guide on how to outline in law school to get started!
Take A Day Off
Between law school requirements and home responsibilities, you are going to be exhausted! If you work nonstop day after day for a whole semester, you will burn out fast! This is why we believe it is incredibly crucial for all students, but especially non-traditional students, to take a day off every week. A day off will refresh your mind and body. It will also give you something to look forward to at the end of your week. People generally work harder when it is towards something. Having a day off to look forward to will keep your mind on your goals, both short-term, and long-term. Further, endurance means long term success!
Give Yourself Time To Adjust
Unlike pipeline students, you have had some time off since the last time you were in school. This means you might not remember the intricacies of student life or how to study daily. Every non-traditional student needs an adjustment period when beginning law school.
Give yourself the time you need to get back into the swing of being a student. While you are at it, try to rid yourself of any bad habits you may have had in school previously. Remember, everyone is adjusting somehow, as law school is a new beast for every student. However, you will need to give yourself the time to add the extra adjustment of becoming a student again. The good news is, this often doesn’t take as long as you might expect! Many non-traditional students develop their study skills and schedule within a couple of weeks.
There is no doubt non-traditional students can succeed in law school. Many would argue that they’re more set up for success than a K-JD student given everything they’ve accomplished up until that point. Experience in the real world and the drive of a growing family or personal responsibilities can push non-traditional students to excel. Take time to implement methods and tactics that will work for you and with your life. Although non-traditional students often deal with more obstacles in law school, many shine within their law school class!