By Brenda L. George • October 10, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life, Other Issues
Studying with a toddler has been a bit of a challenge. Most people have the opportunity to do homework in the early evenings or on weekends. In fact, I even had that opportunity during my first year, while pregnant. But now, early evenings at our house are dedicated to dinner with the family, bath time, bedtime routine, and extra snuggles. Weekends are usually out as well because it is the only time we have to spend together as a family. That leaves late evenings to do homework. My son usually goes to sleep around 8pm these days. Usually. As he gets older, that time creeps later and later, and of course there are some occasions where he stays up later than 8pm. Being pregnant, this has proven more challenging. I find myself doing the bare minimum for my coursework. And, any grad student knows that mid-semester feeling of just barely keeping your head above water while the rest of your body flails to stay afloat. It is all quite overwhelming at times. Add to that having no clue what is going on in the world, or what happened in a particular tv show. It can leave you feeling so isolated from everyone in your life. You don’t understand them, and they don't understand you.
What I have just described is my day-to-day as a law student. This semester, I opted to take a Bar Exam Strategies and Skills course in preparation for the bar examination (I plan to sit for the July 2018 exam). The course has been incredibly helpful, and I am so glad I made the decision to take it. I was really dreading that course at first, mostly because it is offered in the evening, starting at 7:30pm and ending after 9pm. What that means is that I miss bedtime once per week because I get home around 11pm (when you factor in my 2-hour commute). That sacrifice has been worth it, even though I am exhausted by the time I get home.
The course has really forced me to think about my plan for the bar exam, beyond what I even could have comprehended without guidance. It has also demystified the bar exam, which is referenced throughout law school in such an ominous way up until bar prep. Because we have to physically study for a few subjects actually tested on the bar exam, I am able to start my bar prep now, and also figure out what type of studying works best for me.
The recommendation is to treat bar prep like a full-time job. Bar prep typically starts in May, shortly after graduation, and lasts until the exam at the end of July. Last week, a panel of former law students came in to tell us about their experience with preparing and taking the bar exam. Every single one of them explained that they studied all day, every day for two months. One of the panelists explained that he had spent twelve hours per day studying during the last month. Considering all of the above that I already have going on in my life, bar prep is a bit daunting. I am finding peace in the fact that I am starting to think about my strategy NOW for juggling all of my responsibilities. Planning around a six-month-old and a three-year-old is going to be tough, but thinking incredibly far ahead is probably my best bet. Luckily, my older son is enrolled at an early learning center, and can go Monday through Friday 7:30am-5:30pm if need be. Of course, I won't be able to justify that much time away from my son every week. Additionally, the baby on the way is not currently enrolled in any child care. If he's anything like his older brother, he will nap for 30 minutes, and studying will not be an option most days. So, now I need to figure out what my plan will be for May, June, and July 2018. Many people continue to work while doing bar prep. I don't foresee that being an option for me with two children. Which begs the question - will I even have any job offers come August?
I still haven't sorted this out. I hope to have a plan in motion to share with you by December…stay tuned!