Thinking Ahead to Winter Break

Thinking Ahead to Winter BreakThis week we welcome back guest writer Briana Borgolini to talk about what to do to make the most of your winter break.

For most law students, the thought of winter break approaching provides much needed relief during the hectic time at the end of the semester. No matter which year you are in law school, the semester was likely somewhat stressful and exhausting, and it is nearly time for some well-deserved rest. While the most important thing you can do over the break is to recharge for the next semester, there are a few things students may consider doing to effectively and efficiently utilize winter break.

Avoid Agonizing over the Previous Semester

The first thing to keep in mind is that there is no point in agonizing over your performance in the fall semester. This is especially relevant to first years, as it is particularly difficult to avoid doing this when no one has any idea how they did yet. But regardless of what year you’re in, you have no control over your grades anymore at this point, so there is no point in running through every exam in your head or trying to predict where you will be on the curve. The only thing this will do is waste your break – and your break really isn’t that long, so your precious time off is not something you want to waste!

Do Things That Help You Reset

The truth is, this break is probably not long enough to really recover from the stress of a semester (especially if you are a 1L), so it is very important to do whatever you can to attempt to recharge before second semester. Now is the time to go back to any hobbies that fell by the wayside during the semester, whether it be exercising, reading non-legal books or spending time with friends. Spend as much time as you reasonably can doing these things, as your time will likely be limited again come January. Taking some time away from law-related activities can help you recharge, so you’re ready to handle the next semester.

Work on Your Summer Job Search

While it is imperative that you have as much down time as possible over the break, there are certainly still some law school and career related things that should be considered during your weeks off. One of these things is the summer job search. If you are a 1L, set aside some time to draft or update application materials like your resume and cover letter. Many employers begin accepting applications for 1L summer positions in December and January, so now is the time to start preparing. If you are a 2L or 3L and you have not yet secured a position, you should also try to set aside some time to work on applications, before another busy semester begins.

Avoid Substantive Preparation for the Next Semester…

One thing to avoid spending time on over winter break is any reading or substantive preparation for the next semester. Not only is this more likely to lead to burnout, but it isn’t likely to be particularly helpful either. At this point, your schedule may not be finalized, and you almost certainly do not have a syllabus yet. There is no point in trying to get ahead when you don’t yet know what your professor will cover, and how they will cover it. In short, this is unlikely to be a good use of your time, so don’t waste your limited time on this!

…But Get Yourself Generally Organized to Start a New Semester

While it may not be a good idea to do any substantive preparation for the next semester during break, it is probably a good idea to get generally organized. Be sure you have your schedule situated, and know what books and supplies you need to start your classes. Aside from being organized for school, try to get some general life tasks (car maintenance, doctor appointments, etc.) out of the way if you can, so that you have less to worry about once classes begin again.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed With Extracurriculars

Upperclassmen especially may have extracurricular commitments going on during the break, such as journals or moot court. While these are important activities that you should be putting your best efforts into, try to manage your time spent on them efficiently over this break so that you can have some much-needed time to reset as well. To the best of your ability, try to get ahead on any work related to these activities that you may have over the break before the fall semester ends. For any work that you have to do during the break, try to block out some time to work on it and be efficient, so that it does not slowly overtake your entire break. You will be better prepared for the next semester if you take some time to relax, so try to control this work the best you can.

Winter break can be a welcome reprieve from the stress and chaos of the semester. While recharging should be a top priority, efficiently planning in a few additional tasks can help you get ahead of the next semester.


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About Briana Borgolini

Briana Borgolini is a law student at Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she graduated with her B.A. in Human Biology with Honors. Briana worked in public health research for four years before law school and hopes that her non-traditional perspective can help others navigate the law school and legal career process.

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