Post- Semester Blues: How to Bounce Back from a Bad Semester

Post- Semester Blues: How to Bounce Back from a Bad SemesterThis week we welcome guest writer Stephanie Nweke to talk about how to recover if first semester didn’t go well.

It’s a new year, and a new decade. Congrats on making it through another semester, or if you’re a 1L, your first semester of law school.

Things happen unexpectedly during the semester, and it’s unfair that your class grade is usually the sum total of your performance on one exam. That’s why law school grades aren’t always indicative of how great of an attorney you will be.

Regardless of your satisfaction with your grades from last semester, you should always take time to reflect and prepare for the upcoming semester.

So, from my personal experiences, I want to share some of the things that have helped me bounce back!

1. Evaluate your Semester

Examine your approach to studying for exams, completing reading assignments, and staying on top of deadlines. Ask yourself how you handled your academic responsibilities throughout the semester.

Did you receive a low GPA because of external circumstances that were out of your control? If that’s the case, don’t be harsh with yourself because life happens.

On the other hand, sometimes we have bad semesters because of laziness, irresponsibility, distractions, or not understanding how to ask for help. Maybe your grade was just a wake-up call to give an honest assessment of yourself.

Either way, don’t let your evaluations create guilt or shame since there’s not much you can do to change them at this point. Instead, use your past performance as motivation in creating your game plan for next semester.

2. Take a Break!

The stress of finals and finishing the semester strong can be quite burdensome. Before you start the semester, just breathe. Give yourself time to relax and chill, regardless of how you finished. Rest and self-care are just as important as self-evaluation.

Take time to plan goals and activities that you want to complete during the break. Spend time with family and friends that boost your morale and keep you grateful.

3. Set Goals for the Upcoming Semester

Don’t just talk about them, write them down! Divide your goals into different categories, such as—academic, social, health and wellness, professional, spiritual, and financial. Dividing them sharpens your focus and will make it easier to create ways to hold yourself accountable.

Remember this: goals aren’t milestones that you know you can easily reach, and they are also not immeasurable. You must be challenged, but you also must be able to assess yourself every step of the way. Find a balance.

4. Create a Game Plan

This is where the work starts—don’t wait for the semester to start. A key to success is preparation! Goals are useless if you don’t have a plan of how to accomplish them. For each goal in every category, research and write down specific actions you must take to accomplish them.

A good game plan also includes coaches. You need to have people that will hold you accountable. Even if your parents are supportive of your educational endeavors, it’s important to have others in your circle of success.

Reach out to friends, professors, and peer mentor figures that you have a good relationship with (or that you would like to begin building a relationship with). Share the lessons you learned from the previous semester and express your desire for improvement. The people you reach out to should be able to offer you genuine support, guidance, and expose you to resources that you didn’t previously know about.

5. Focus on Making Small Changes

If you want to improve an aspect of your academic approach, it isn’t always practical to make a drastic change and instantly expect a difference. (This is why many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions, for example). Know your good habits and know your bad habits.

For example, if you struggle with wasting time on social media, it may not always be the best idea to delete everything and go ghost. Try deleting the Twitter app and instead limiting yourself to accessing Twitter on your laptop. You can even use browser extensions to set controls on the time you spend on different websites. It may be easier to manage your time if you decrease the amount of time you spend on your actual phone.

If you struggle with organization and planning, try creating a to-do list for the following day every night before going to bed. Do this instead of investing in a planner that you have never been the type to use.

6. Get Excited!

Envisioning where you want to be and who you want to be after you make some changes and face some challenges is exciting.

Don’t fixate on the challenges you’ll have to face. Instead focus on your energy and approach towards these challenges and your game plan. Bouncing back isn’t easy, but it’s always worth it.

Good luck!


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About Stephanie Nweke

Stephanie is a second-year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She is also the co-founder of Blademy, an online platform where Black millennials come to learn new skills, land better jobs, and reach their full potential. Stephanie is interested in the intersection of law, business, and technology and wants to create more access to the legal profession for first-generation and minority students.

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