Is 3LOL a Myth? 3 Ways to Handle A Stressful 3L Year

Is 3LOL A Myth? How to handle a stressful 3L Year.This week we welcome back guest writer, Christen Morgan, attorney and Real Estate Specialist at a wireless infrastructure company, to talk about how you can manage 3L year, even when it’s not the smooth sailing you expected – and you’re actually stressed out!

When I started law school there were three things I looked forward to more than anything; 1) landing a summer job, 2) the Thursday afternoon keg and 3) my 3L year. By the time I received my 1L summer job offer and realized that I was far too busy as a 1L to attend the Thursday keg, the only thing that kept me going was my dreams about 3L year. I fantasized about being a 3L who had it all together; a permanent job offer in place, a light class schedule and an exciting social life complete with being in attendance at all the kegs my heart could desire. Fast forward two years later to the start of my 3L year – reality struck. No, I did not have a permanent job offer, my class schedule was busier than ever and, although I had a social life, it was not as free flowing as I would have hoped for. My initial thoughts were that 3LOL is clearly a myth. A phrase coined specifically for 1Ls and 2Ls to dull their angst during stressful periods. However, once I got into the swing of things, I realized that 3LOL isn’t a myth but more of a relative term. Some students may experience the joy of being a free, lighthearted 3L throughout their entire final year. Some, like myself, will only experience the joy of 3LOL during their last semester. Whereas some students may not experience the joy of 3LOL at all.

However, I truly believe that students face more stress in their 3L year because their experience is compounded by an expectation of sheer enjoyment that they were fed throughout law school. Once you can come to terms with the fact that your 3L experience will be relative to your schedule, I think this can help with handling the unexpected stresses of this year. Here are three ways to handle a stressful 3L year:

1. Block Out the Buzz

You know what I’m talking about, those 3Ls who go on and on about all the free time they have on their hands. The ones who can’t stop talking out loud about the post bar trip they have planned for Barcelona. Also, the ones who consistently brag about the fact that they have no final exams for their courses and as a matter of fact don’t see the need to attend class anymore. The moment you avoid these people, I assure you that you will feel less stressed out. Why? The more you engage in conversation with these people or open a listening ear to their comments, you will begin to apply those expectations to your experience and question why you don’t have that free time available.

During my first semester of 3L year, I recall allowing this buzz to get to me. Honestly, it skewed my focus because I began to pay attention to why others were free while I was confined to studying, instead of focusing on my actual work at hand. Therefore, I began secluding myself when I had to do work. I avoided the first floor of the library which was essentially a social gathering ground for all the “3LOLers.” I also began asking my friends who had excess free time to refrain from discussing this around me. Once I blocked out as much of the buzz as I could, I found myself feeling less stressed out, as I was able to frame my own experience and not allow others to influence me.

2. Apply Old Study Habits

As a 3L I know that the temptation rises to throw out old study habits. By this point of your law school career you may already feel like you have it under control. Therefore, it’s natural to be less regimented about your study habits. However, if you’re a busy 3L it may be crucial for you to pull out some of the more stringent study habits that got you through your first two years. That may mean actually reading before your classes and not waiting until finals prep to cram all the information. This may also mean actually outlining for your classes or getting a head start on research for a writing course. The average 3L may be tempted to leave their preparation to the last minute because at this point he/she may feel like a law school “pro.” While some of this is true, if you have a full load as a 3L you can’t leave all your work to the end like an average “3LOLer.” Get it out of the way early by applying successful study habits and hopefully this will help you to feel less stressed out.

3. Stay on Top of Your Schedule

As a 3L it’s likely that your life will not be entirely consumed by law school classes. By this point you may have developed a social life, you may be involved in extracurricular activities or you may even be working a part time job or job hunting while juggling classes. Therefore, it’s crucial that you stay on top of your schedule if you want to have a less stressful 3L year. Creating a study schedule was not just designated for 1L year. In fact, a schedule may be even more crucial for your 3L year because you have so many things to juggle.

So let me let you in on a secret. Creating a schedule and actually sticking to it may actually give you the freedom to become a 3LOLer! Yes, you too can have access to this experience if you create a schedule that affords you ample time for work and some time for fun. If you stick to these commitments, you should be on your way to getting your course load under control and working your way into every keg and social activity that comes across your radar.

By the way, congrats on making it to 3L!


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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