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Crunch time: Summer-Starter Finals

By John Masson
Aug. 21, 2012

Just at that moment when everyone else is preoccupied with the idea of getting back to school, Michigan Law's Summer Starters are buckling down for the shortened, three-day sprint known as final exams.

Students worry about their performance, of course, even in the midst of an idyllic Ann Arbor summer. But both of the Law School's assistant deans of student affairs—each of whom took plenty of finals during their student years at Michigan Law—have sound advice that can help make the process smoother and healthier for students.

"First, try to maintain balance," said Assistant Dean David Baum, '89. "The routines that work for you during the regular term will work for you now, as well. Trying to get regular sleep and regular exercise, and trying to leave at least a little time for recreation, are things that are really going to help."

Baum also reminded students that if they attended most of their classes and kept up with most of the reading, they probably know more than they think they do. And both Baum and Assistant Dean Christine Gregory, '96, urged what might be the trickiest requirement: perspective.

"You want to do as well as you can, of course, but the grades don't mean nearly as much as you think they do, in the long run," Baum said.

Gregory agreed.

"Grades need to be put into context," Gregory said. "They are important, but they don't decide your future in the way I think students worry about. If an employer 10 years from now cares about your grades, you probably don't want to work there."

After all, she said, the goal of attending law school is to learn the material—not just to get exceptional grades.

Both deans said their doors are open to students who may need a little extra support during the exam cycle. And they urge students to seek more information and a wide range of help on the Law School's wellness site.

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