Monday, March 31, 2014

Maintaining a healthy balance in law school

Johnathan Koonce, KU Law student Before applying to law school, I talked to as many people as I could about their law school experiences. The recurring theme was this: “Law school is extremely hard” and “Don’t go to law school unless you are sure that’s what you want to do.” I thought to myself, “How hard could it really be?”

To my surprise, the warnings I received were true. Law school is, in fact, hard, and it does take up the majority of my time. So I had to find ways to stay healthy and sane in such a pressure cooker of an environment.

First, I have found that it is imperative to have at least one fun thing to look forward to each week. Although most of my time is spent studying, there are plenty of ways to decompress. I recommend carving out some time each week to do something fun.

My personal happy place is playing pick-up basketball with other law students once or twice a week. On the first day of 1L orientation, I quickly found that a number of my classmates enjoy playing basketball, too. There's even a Facebook group that helps law students find dates and times to organize a few games. I find that these weekly games are a great way for me to escape the traditional worries of school and just enjoy the moment.

If basketball isn’t of interest, there are many other ways to spend your time. KU Recreation Services has a fantastic gym, equipped with a climbing wall and racquetball courts.

Beyond physical activity, the law school itself, or groups within it, facilitate and host fun social events. In the past couple of weeks, three events have taken place that bring together law students, professors, guests and alumni to enjoy an evening out: the Diversity Banquet, the Hope Gala (formally known as Pub Night), and Barrister’s Ball. Most notable of the three for me is Barrister’s Ball, also known as Law Prom. This was my first year attending, and it was a blast. It is always fun to have a reason to dress up and enjoy a night of food, drinks, friends and dancing. Law Prom is one night that the law school student body looks forward to each year, and it almost always sells out.

I have also found that spending time with friends and family has been helpful in relieving stress. Taking time off on a Friday or Saturday to grab a bite to eat or watch a basketball game with friends helps take my mind off school just long enough to for me to recharge and prevent burnout. The key is finding a balance that works best.

Last, but not least, sleep is crucial to my success. If I want to fully function each day, I need an adequate amount of sleep each night. Getting the right amount of sleep and practicing healthy eating habits (or at least eating regularly) helps keep my mind and body strong enough to endure the ups and downs of law school.

Law school is hard work. What makes it bearable and more enjoyable is managing your time and taking advantage of fun activities outside the classroom. I encourage students to find the balance that works best for them.

Johnathan Koonce is a second-year law student and KU Law Student Ambassador from Colorado Springs, CO.

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