Saturday, October 8, 2011

Midterms

So it's time to get some feedback, mid-semester, on my work so far. However, I am used to getting mostly positive feedback and not much, if any, negative. Well, that's not what law school is all about...apparently.

My first returned assignment was in Legal Writing, a Memo worth 10% of our final grade. Generally, I do well with writing classes and assignments. It's a frustrating thing that we're not allowed to get any feedback along the way. No one at all can read what we've written, not even a friend, a peer, or a professor can read our work, even just for missed spelling or grammar errors. Even getting our basic questions answered is near impossible.

Then, when it's grade time, the professors seem to revel in our failure! There are many sections of this class, a required class for all first year students. Several different professors teach the class and, though they all follow the same syllabus, there seems to be wide variation in terms of how the run their classes. Total points available for this assignment was 80. I heard one section had a couple of students who scored right around 70. That class had inflated grades, compared to all of the other sections. Most sections had an average score of between 45-55...out of 80. My class? Average score was 50. I got a 51. There are only 14 of us in there and overall, the students aren't raving about the professor. We can't figure out how to play the game. No one will tell us the rules. The approach seems to be learn by failure. Great! What happens if the "learn by failure" method isn't particularly effective for me?

So now on to the actual midterms. We took the Contracts midterm a few days ago. We won't get our scores back for some time, but we've already been told that almost all of us will get a C or a D. How reassuring! And the Torts midterm is next week, so we can expect more of the same. We're told that that's just the way it is...don't stress too much and keep moving forward. In theory, that's a good idea. But since our scholarships are tied to our grades, that's easier said than done.

The other thing I learned during midterms if that I haven't really made any friends in law school. Most of the students have found a group, either by assignment or choice, with whom they study and socialize. I have not. I have my assigned group and they have all connected, but I am clearly a friendly outsider. I am a part-timer among mostly full-timers. Plus, I have a job and children and more than 15 years more of life experience than most of the other students. I get it. I'm different. Mostly, that's okay. But it sure would have been nice to feel connected to someone during midterms.

Oh well, we keep marching onward...