Gail Armatys, M.S.
CAO & Co-Founder
Center for Advanced Legal Studies
Sometimes just making a few adjustments to the way paralegal students think about, plan, and prepare for class can make all the difference. Here are a few study tips that might help you along your way.
1. Attend Class – Someone once said, “Ninety percent of success is being there.” I’d like to add, that means not just being physically present. It also means being mentally present. There are too many things that can easily distract. Your busy schedule, your smart phone, your laptop, your emails, texts, television shows, etc., etc., etc. can all be distractions. Promise yourself you will ‘really’ attend physically and mentally whether in the traditional classroom or the online classroom of your paralegal program. Be there and stay focused to gain the most out of your instruction.
2. Take Good Notes – If you’ve never been a good note taker enhance your skills now. It can make the difference between guessing and knowing. It can also make the difference between a happy client and a disgruntled one. Take it upon yourself to pay attention and take good notes. Check out this link. It may help you get started. www.academictips.org/acad/literature/notetaking.html
3. Read the Material and Review Your Notes – After you’ve read the material and taken good notes, review them daily. Now ‘days you can easily review archived lectures, comments, self-tests, and discussion threads to improve your understanding and knowledge. So, do it! Take the initiative and help yourself learn the information. It’ll make a difference in your grades and your legal career.
4. Start a Study Group - Traditional and students in online classes can form interactive study groups that meet once a week, before an exam, or on an as-needed basis. As an adult student, you've probably participated in a study group. Some are helpful - some, not-so-much. This time, make sure the group agrees to set a few ground rules. An example might be agreeing that the same person doesn't do all the talking all the time. :-) This should be a time where questions can be asked for clarification and assistance. Remember, there are no dumb questions. Be sure to take breaks and enjoy the learning process together.
5. Have a Plan – Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in each day? Week? Year? Write down your goals for each class. “I want an ‘A’ in Mr. Swanson’s Civil Litigation class.” That’s great! How are you going to do that? Write it down. Why? Just wishing it and saying it doesn’t make it happen. Write down your goals for each class and then create a short, written plan (steps) that will need to take place for you to reach that goal. (1. Attend Class each day. 2. Take good notes. 3. Review my notes each day before the next class. 4. Rewrite my notes or read them aloud to help my understanding. 5. You get the idea!)
6. Be Intentional – Being intentional about creating your plans, establishing your goals, and determining how you are going to accomplish them automatically creates a path for success. The most important part of accomplishing anything worthwhile is having a vision and making it happen on purpose! Don’t let the day toss you around like a tumble weed on a windy day. Dig in your heels and set about intentionally completing your plans and meeting your own expectations. It’s hard work most days – but the pay off may very well be that ‘A’ and the beginning of your legal career.
Center for Advanced Legal Studies specializes in paralegal education and offers a certificate paralegal program and an AAS Degree paralegal program for those interested in the law. Externships provide experience and career placement services are available for CALS paralegal graduates. Classes begin January through December are taught on campus in Houston or online.