Blog Entry 80
July 30th, 2010
Wow! What a crazy couple of weeks!
Right after I was finished dealing with the stress of applying for OCI, I had to register for my fall classes. I made the decision to commit to both law review and moot court for the upcoming year, so it took some effort on my part to make sure that I was taking a well-balanced course load. One of the best features of UDM is the faculty; many faculty members came in for two different faculty advising sessions, and we got the chance to meet with them one-on-one to talk about which classes we should pursue this semester. Although I had some idea of what I wanted going in, I felt so much better leaving my advising session, knowing that the two different professors I talked to felt confident in my scheduling choices. As it stands now, I only have classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays…it looks so good on paper, but I have a strange suspicion that I will somehow end up on campus more than three days a week anyway.
My externship has been going very well. I have been challenged with more writing assignments, and I have gotten to see some very interesting aspects of the criminal law system. In the past two weeks alone, I got to be a part of so many interesting ventures: a meeting with a complaining witness, an interview with a prison inmate who claims that he was assaulted in the Wayne County Jail, an informal tour of the jail to determine the plausibility of some differing stories on another case, a tour of the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office (where we watched autopsies), etc. I also got the chance to respond to a motion (basically, the same thing we did in ALTA, but on a smaller scale…what took me about two and a half months in ALTA I did in about five hours), watch videos of a police chase, and piece together witness statements and review evidence to write a report on whether or not we should prosecute a particular case. Wow.
So I was thinking about what a good topic would be to blog about, and I’m thinking today will be a nice and light topic: school supplies. I don’t know about anyone else, but I love shopping for school supplies…and when starting law school last year, I had no clue what I should even buy. Of course, different people have different learning styles, and different needs, but the following is what worked for me. If nothing else, hopefully it will give you some ideas about how you might like to structure yourself next year.
The absolute number one item is highlighters. (I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be endorsing certain products on my blog…but I recommend the Sharpie brand, thick tip highlighters; they far outlast other brands, and just make for nice, neat highlighting.) Unless your books are used and already contain yellow highlighting, I recommend yellow highlighters. Easier to read, and neat and tidy…plus, yellow highlighters will probably cost you less. I also recommend buying a package of assorted colored highlighters; having these lying around can be very helpful when you’re coming up with a system for noting important points in the reading. I don’t even know how many highlighters I used up over the past year.
A big question is always how to take notes. There are still people who take notes by hand, although many people have switched to computers. (I should point out though that there are some professors, one 1L professor I know for sure, who do not permit students to use computers in class, and other professors who strongly discourage the practice.) Keep in mind that professors often have nice graphics that they will draw on the board, and these usually need to be handwritten, so always have paper and pen handy. The system that worked well for me was to have a binder for each class. Using a binder allowed me to move seamlessly between paper notes and computer notes. I either took my notes on looseleaf (which is so inexpensive compared to nice notebooks!), or I would type them up and print them out. Either way, they could both coexist together in my binder, and I think it gave me a greater sense of flexibility, while still maintaining some good organization. (On this note, a three-hole punch of your very own would be very convenient to have for this purpose, although they do have these available for your use in the library.)
Another essential? A stapler. Preferably a mini stapler that will fit in your school bag. It is unprofessional to hand in documents that are not stapled. You can probably find a mini stapler for around $3 (or maybe even at the dollar store!). This small investment will make your life easier.
A bag. When buying a new bag for school, be considerate of your back. (I’ve discussed this matter before, but I think it’s worth repeating.) Throw a laptop into a bag, add textbooks for two classes, plus supplements and binders, a lunch, your computer charger…and you could be looking at about 30 pounds of stuff. Carry that bag up and down the stairs a couple of times, cart it back and forth to your car, and it can cause some serious wear and tear to your back, neck and shoulders if it isn’t designed properly. I noticed many students, especially ladies, started off the year with cute, professional bags…about four weeks later, most had wised up and switched to backpacks. (I still have a cute, professional bag that I use when I’m only going to be carrying my computer…but for the most part, I can be found carrying a plain old backpack, with my computer in one of those laptop “sleeves.”)
Hopefully my list has allowed you to at least get an idea of the different types of things to consider when picking up school supplies. Of course, once the year starts and you develop a system, you will probably find other items you could use…but for things you know you’ll need, you might as well take advantage of the back-to-school sales.
I’m actually starting to really look forward to my second year of law school. Ask me how I feel about it after my first week or so…but for now, I’m pretty excited. Hopefully all of you are looking forward to a great first year!