September 19, 2003

Panic has set in

Not necessarily with me. Yet. But the 1Ls as a collective entity have whipped themselves into a much more competitive and paranoid frenzy than the already palpable mess we were in before. I'd estimate that on average, the change is from 4 highlighters to 7 highlighters. {bad joke, I know} It's not a fun environment.

All of my courses have associated discussion groups taught by 2Ls. That's almost an extra 30% of class-hours per week. Taught by people who barely finished learning the material themselves. I always thought of discussion groups as a second chance at a good professor. If your professor couldn't teach, maybe your discussion group leader could. Or, if you had a question and your professor wasn't approachable, ask in discussion. But, all of my professors are excellent teachers who keep begging us to stop by their office with our questions. Given that the professors seem to be doing the teaching just fine on their own, discussion groups at my school, apparently, are all about preparing you to take the exam. That's right, an hour a week, starting now, until the end of December, that is all about a 3 hour test. If that isn't designed to create a competitive environment, I don't know what is.

And then, there's the announcements/advertisements that are showing up all over campus for tutors, systems, programs, courses, lectures, study aids, and more. They all promise to teach you the one true thing you need to know in order to ace the exam. So, 1Ls are running around, asking each other what they are going to take out of the list of offerings, and discussing outlining (or rather begging anyone and everyone to tell them exactly what belongs on an outline), how much studying they did last week, exactly what position they took on their first memo and why, if you are lucky enough to have their topic, your position must be wrong. Most 1Ls seem to be convinced that there must be a way for them to win the grades competition. I see it in faces, people smell blood. I'm not excited about this. I'm competitive by nature, but try (and have succeeded) to keep my nature under control. I fear what this environment may do to me.

Unlike last week, where I felt like I had the swing of things, this week, I'm questioning myself. I feel as if the material is fairly straightforward. But everyone is freaking out. And my classmates are smart (although I have been surprised at some of the dumber ones, but that's another story). How can it be that I've got everything under control when there's discussion groups, study aids, programs, systems, and frenzy all around me? If everyone else is convinced they can't do it on their own, what makes me so arrogant that I think I don't need 'em. I've started to question myself and what I think I know. And it's definitely because of the environment. For now, I'm just going to try to avoid the freakers and stay on my path. Wish me luck.

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