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Advice for Getting through Finals

By John Masson

It's like the annual blooming of the lilacs, only with less fragrance and more stress.

It's Michigan Law's exam period, of course—a 10-day spring marathon running from April 24 through May 3. And while students are understandably concerned about a central component of their legal educations, both of the Law School's student affairs deans—who went through finals themselves 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 facing difficulties during the exam cycle. And more information and a wide range of help is also available on the Law School's wellness site.

 

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