We often view the summer as a period of preparation for new opportunities. Folks across the world are wrapping up their high school, college, and graduate studies to embrace the next phase of their lives. Some are in their final season of professional work before returning to the classroom. Others are planning and preparing for law school as early as their junior year of college. As the global COVID-19 pandemic dramatically alters the landscape of the season, we have heard from prospective applicants who are uncertain about how to approach the upcoming months. Many are wondering what the expectations of our office may be.
First and foremost, our office is concerned with the health and safety of all of our admitted students, current students, and community members at this time.
As our wise Associate Director Nefyn reminds us, the work of law school admissions does not happen in a vacuum. We understand the worries of our applicants because we are living through similar situations, uncertainties, and concerns. We are also experiencing loss, separation from loved ones, increased familial commitments, changing summer plans, disruptions to our workplace, and the adjustment to this “new normal” with an abundance of caution. We are learning and adapting alongside each and every one of you.
With that in mind, we hope to share some of our thoughts about moving through this period. These ideas merely scratch the surface of what some folks might prioritize in the coming months. Please consider them ideas, not proposals or solutions.
Please take time to care for yourselves and your communities in the ways that are accessible and meaningful to you. For some, this may mean virtual civic organizing while for others it means caring for the health of a loved one. Personally, our most important “to-do” list item is to prioritize self-compassion, understanding for those around us, and growth in a manner that feels most relevant to our personal stories. As they remind us in flight safety videos, some of us may need to remember to secure our own masks as we support others. Others of us may be working to find balance with the concept that, in times like these, we thrive as communities.
A few practices for self-care that our team has found helpful:
Meditation: Recharge. Relax. Repeat. In times of stress, meditative practice can help in maintaining calm while sustaining our overall health. If you are looking for apps to get you started, our Admissions Officer Monique began her mindfulness journey with resources from Ten Percent Happier and Happy Not Perfect.
Journaling: A source of inspiration. A place to vent. Sometimes putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can serve as a creative outlet to inspire fresh ideas, vast possibilities, and maybe even a future bestseller. Seeking inspiration? Try a writing prompt.
Exercise: Another practice that can take a million different forms. Engage your body in ways that feel most comfortable. Go for a run, practice yoga, or have a living room dance party. Assistant Director Courtney is tuning in for classes with her community barre studio to get in a good workout while supporting a local business.
This time may be an opportunity to tackle the personal or professional “to-do” list. As a disclaimer, productivity and accomplishment are not necessarily linear processes. Any newly acquired skills and experiences need not apply directly to your law school plans, but the journey may very well sharpen future goals. When reviewing applications, our understanding of an applicant is contextual to the experiences and background of each person because we believe that the whole person is applying to law school. We do not base our review on any one internship or summer course you may endeavor towards in the months to come. If you are considering how your experiences will translate to your application, concentrate on how your passions can be fulfilled by this time and other elements will follow.
You may consider learning a new language, volunteering in a field that is meaningful to you, sitting in on webinars with topics and facilitators that excite you. Take time to imagine the emerging possibilities before you. Perhaps these experiences will inform what you explore through your personal statement.
While there are many avenues to meaningful learning, HarvardX provides over 60 courses to explore your new and continued interests. The site offers classes ranging from drug regulation for students with a passion for healthcare law to a class with an introductory lens on computer science for the legal mind. Dean Jobson recommends this course for those who are keen to sharpen their persuasive writing skills.
Podcasts are another one of our favorite paths for broadening intellectual horizons. In his free time, Nefyn will take a (socially distant) stroll through the Cambridge streets in the company of a new episode. If you’re looking for some new informative audio, the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program’s Thanks for Listening podcast or the Harvard Association for Law and Business Leadership podcast (episode six is one of our personal favorites) are great places to start. Here is another for added fun.
Not all lessons that call to you will be academic. Staff Assistant Cindy is exercising her green thumb by using this time to introduce new plants while landscaping her two-acre yard. Office Assistant Ralph is shifting his lens (that artfully shot our staff portraits) to sharpen his product photography. Our resident baker and Admissions Officer Alessandra is honing her culinary skills on classic favorites. If your favorite hobby is the kind that you can eat, try mastering the art of the cinnamon roll.
Self-isolation does not mean you have to be alone. Connecting virtually with mentors, advisors, professors, supervisors, friends, family, or neighbors during this time is not only a valuable practice, it may illuminate the pathways that you can use to support your community and vice-versa.
Before quarantine, it may not have dawned on many of us how much support resides in each day’s small and large interactions. Talking with a long-time mentor may remind you what motivates your application to law school. Checking in with your neighbor could reinvigorate your understanding of this time through another perspective. Spending time with colleagues and friends on Zoom might just give you the empathy and shared experience to tackle the rest of the week, whatever that looks like for you.
On our team, Admissions Assistant Patty has been joining loved ones across the country for games over Zoom. Our whole staff recently bonded with a game of virtual trivia on Jackbox.tv. Assistant Director Lucas is also fond of this app for online board games with friends. If you are looking for an alternative to games, try your collective hands at virtual crossword puzzles or start a community book club. If you’re looking for a way to include the family, Associate Director Odeviz is in the midst of reading about a dragon adventure with his little one, Felix.
We hope that our thoughts on this moment are helpful. We are here to support you as you begin to explore your possibilities this summer and beyond. We have so much faith in you.