Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, law students across the nation are suddenly attending online classes. For some, this is a big adjustment! If you are struggling with online classes, we have compiled some tips to help you succeed and make the most of this situation.
In this post, we cover some general tips for law students attending online classes. We hope these tips help you in this ever-changing time.
1. Make a schedule
If there was not a pandemic in the US right now, you would likely be living life on a regular schedule. However, now that classes are online, it is really easy to wake up right before class, skip breakfast, watch TV, and generally put off studying.
If this is what your days have looked like recently, it is time to make a schedule! We know the schedule will not look the same as it did before attending online classes. But, we suggest making it as similar as possible. Or, at least make a schedule that is manageable and avoids you putting off everything until the last minute. If you have been waking up at noon every day, don’t make a schedule that has you now waking up at 6:00 a.m. because that is unrealistic. Instead, start by waking up at 9:00 a.m. and gradually work up to waking up at 6:00 a.m. if that is your goal!
Even during mandatory self-isolation and social distancing where you can’t do a lot of your regular activities, there are always alternatives. Even though you cannot go out to the gym, you are still free to work out at home or run/walk outside. And, even though you aren’t driving to school for lecture, you still have to watch it every day online. Chatting with friends can also be virtual. And, studying might be in a different space, but that doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be done. Here are our tips on how to make a law school exam schedule and strategies for studying during the regular law school term that you can tailor to make it work for you right now.
If you make a realistic schedule, you are more likely to hold yourself accountable and follow it!
2. Eat right
It is important to eat the same sorts of foods you would normally have eaten before attending online classes. For example, if you are now eating cookies and other junk food for lunch, and that is not normal for you, this will affect the rest of your day. Stick to healthy foods that your body is accustomed to using as fuel. This will help maintain your mental and physical health and give you the stamina to study at home!
Along those same lines, it is ideal if you eat at the same time you normally would have a meal. Eating a heavy breakfast at noon (if that is not your normal routine) is not going to help your ability to study later in the day. So, make sure to add meal times to the schedule mentioned in tip one!
3. Treat online class as if it were a normal lecture
Attending online classes is an adjustment for some students, especially those who have never done this before. The best way to make your experience successful is to treat the online class just like you would an in-person class.
This means watching the class at the normally-scheduled time. You may have the option to watch it at another time if it is recorded, but we advise against this if possible (refer to tip one). And, don’t pause the class to do anything unnecessary, like playing with your dog or checking social media. Do things to eliminate distractions, such as caging your dog and turning your phone off or putting it on silent. If your law class is live, don’t wait for the recording to come out after! The class time is a great thing to put in your schedule, mentioned in tip one.
In addition, do other things during class that you normally would do if the class were in person. For example, participate as much as you normally would. If you usually talk to your friends on the side, text them before or after class to say hello! All these things will help you feel like the class is proceeding as normal, which therefore makes you more likely to pay attention!
4. Get ready before attending online classes
As tempting as it may be, attending online classes in your pajamas could hinder your overall performance.
Some people find it helpful to go through one’s normal routine to get ready for the day. That might mean taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes every morning. Practicing good hygiene overall is good to fight the coronavirus, but another side effect is making you feel normal. It is tough to get back to normal when your daily life has been flipped upside down, but keeping these little things in check will have an overall positive effect on your life and well-being.
In a similar fashion, we think it is helpful to do something to block off the end of your law school day. Whether that means shutting down your computer and all the lights in your home office or going on a walk around the block (similar to walking home from class/ work). These small things signal to your brain that it is time to switch gears—from work time to relaxing time (or whatever else you do!). Do something habitual at the end of each day.
5. Stay alert and focused
Now, more than ever, it is important to stay focused during online law school classes. Everyone has their methods to stay focused during class, so stick to what you know. Some ideas are to have coffee/tea by your side, download a focusing or mindfulness app for your computer, close all windows that are not related to your online class, put your phone on silent or in the other room, or take a small walk/break every hour to reset your mind.
If you are looking for more tips on how to pay attention in online classes, we’ve got you covered!
6. Form study groups
At this time, many states are enforcing strict shelter-in-place orders and there are limits on gatherings. However, this does not need to stop you from studying with fellow law students. In fact, now more than ever, having human interaction is a great thing when attending online classes.
We suggest holding a study group online through a video conferencing service. This can be a one-time thing. Or, if you are dedicated, make a weekly schedule to meet with your classmates. You can go over law school-related notes, study strategies, and prepare for exams. This study group will be invaluable during reading week, especially with the changes to law school exams. We break down these changes for you in this post. And, here is a post on what remote law school final exams might look like.
We also encourage you to turn your camera on during these meetings. This will keep you accountable, and more likely your friends will do so as well!
If anything, an online study group is a great way to talk to your fellow classmates about any issues you all may be having with the online classes. You can brainstorm solutions to issues, or get tips from them on how they are staying sane during the stay-at-home order!
We know this is a very difficult time for law students. For those that are graduating, check out how coronavirus might impact law school graduation and how to prep for the bar during the coronavirus outbreak.