Two weeks ago was the tangible culmination of three rollercoaster years finally coming to an end. When the exam season finally finished in May I didn’t quite know how to feel when I was still waking up at 6am but had nothing to revise or read because I had to. It was weird suddenly having all this stress free (kind of) time as I waited for results.
I tried to reflect on my time at UCL. And it was nothing like I had imagined it would be. It wasn’t the straight and narrow path I had envisioned for myself as a naïve 18 year old fresh eyed first year. It was a journey filled with more ups and downs, dare I cliché-ly say this, than a roller coaster. It was a huge learning curve, not only academically but personally. And ultimately I grew from it and somehow managed to survive law school.
This post, I guess, is more for those who are thinking of doing this or are still going through law school. Once again, as I always say whenever I am asked about how to best deal with law school or university in general, just do your best. Remember that you are you, you are different to everyone else you are studying with. Your experiences, your background, your emotions, your understanding and how you approach things are different to everyone else and unique to you and that’s an amazing thing to embrace.
One thing I had to learn during my time, was not to compare. I had to learn to compete not with others, but with myself because when I was comparing myself to others I wasn’t entirely happy. I learnt what my limits were, how to manage my expectations and ultimately I learnt how to fail. This may sound strange but as I said in an earlier post (Dealing with Disappointment), it’s hard to lose when you become used to not necessarily winning all the time but getting things right.
I had come from always being at the top or the girl that won things or didn’t have to try really hard. Law school was that much needed ego tamer and I am glad (at times reluctantly) that I was able to have this experience because ultimately it made me better. Better at being realistic, better at managing stress, my emotions, my expectations and looking after myself when things got tough. Again, I learnt how to win in the middle of failure.
For anyone who is going through this or will be going through this journey remember this: it is your journey, and what you make of it. And no matter what happens there is still always time to come back winning. Trust me I went from finishing with a Desmond D (2:2) in 1st and 2nd year to getting 1st in 3rd year. It is possible.
If I could give one piece of advice to my first year self to avoid the scenario I found myself in with low grades and not really happy, it would be: it’s not about doing all nighters or spending the whole day at the library. It’s about the quality of your study, work smart and don’t make yourself busy for the sake of it. Quality over quantity and balance helped me to pull it together in third year.
Another thing I would say is find new ways of working and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet the expectations you were used to, it’s ok to take time to adjust.
Also if you don’t have a training contract by the end of first year, its not the end of the world and there is nothing wrong with you. Make sure it’s something you want, and look for other ways to prove your experience or passion for the career. It could be that part-time job you do, volunteering, the societies you are a part of or even the blog you run. When making applications it’s about selling yourself after doing the research.
Don’t forget to look after yourself, take a break and ask for help when you need it. In the end it will be ok. Even more so when you know you did your best, and despite what the application requirements may say, that’s what matters. Do your best, for you.
As for this blog, it may no longer be strictly about the life of a London law student, but I will continue to answer queries, give advice/mentor where I can. I will also try and chart what it is like being a graduate and actually adulting and keep you updated on life after law school!