Study v Work v Life: Learning Law, Postgrad Style
Just over three years ago I decided to apply to study law as a postgrad so I could pursue my passion for access to justice and be able to advocate for those unable to do so for themselves.
When offers came out and I was offered a full-fee paying spot, I seriously considered whether I wanted a degree worth a house deposit. Obviously I ended up taking the offer, but having to accumulate a significant debt as a result of wanting to study was very difficult to justify.
The hardest part for me in the last couple of years has been finding the perfect balance of work, study and personal life. Early on in my JD, I would feel completely overwhelmed and regretted my decision to study law because of the stress of trying to juggle work and uni. It took me over a year to settle into the degree and get into a good study routine. I would force myself to get up early and go to work to study before everyone else got in, and it became the most effective way to cram some study into my day. If I fell behind in my study towards exam time I’d take annual leave to catch up.
I am lucky to already work in the law. So to learn the theory at uni and then see the practical application in my work on a daily basis has really enhanced my learning experience.
Generally, I’ve studied what was considered to be a part-time load, but one trimester I overloaded and did four subjects. Worst. Idea. Ever. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I wouldn’t recommend it. That trimester my life was nothing but work and study. Looking back I regret it because the stress was too much and I ended up working and studying myself into the ground. I think from that I learnt I didn’t give myself enough credit for how much effort is required to study on top of having a full-time job. I also learnt that I needed downtime, so I began to try and confine study to weekdays in order to have a weekend like a normal person.
I work a compressed week so that I can have a day off to study. Without the ability to work in this way, studying would be almost impossible. The real benefit in studying law postgrad is the flexibility. For me, night classes are a godsend. After work, I can go to uni and I feel like it’s the only place where people understand the struggle I’m going through because there’s people just like me who have been at work the whole day and just want to get through the evening class without falling asleep.
When I finish in August, it will be a welcome relief. While finding the balance between studying and working has been extremely challenging, I have really enjoyed the experience (despite all the stress) and couldn’t really imagine studying law any other way.
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