I applied for the course almost on impulse. The GDL was something I’d always had in mind, but did not think possible at this stage in my life. I’d always envisioned it as something I’d do later on, when I’d saved up enough to take a career break and devote a year of my life on it.
I can’t deny that so far it’s hard, working full-time and spending such a large amount of my free-time studying, but it’s turning out to be one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. So, without further ado, I present a list of Do’s and Don’ts for the prospective distance-learning student!
Do: Work out everything that’s required from your work, as soon as it’s set, write a timetable (with time to spare in case things take longer than you think) and stick to it.
Don’t: Forget to leave some time to yourself or you’ll go completely crazy from working all the time!
Do: Budget properly, remembering that there are hotel bills and travel to pay for as well as just the course fees.
Don’t: Stay in the cheapest place possible unless you’ve thoroughly researched it. This weekend just gone I stayed on a university campus and although the room was clean and comfortable, it was noisy until the early hours so I had very little sleep all weekend.
Do: Take something non-law-related to read, otherwise you may well get bored and end up cam whoring in your hotel room because there’s nothing to do.
Law School is Serious Business!
Do: Make an effort to socialise with your fellow students whilst you’re there, particularly if your studies involve group work. Getting to know people outside of a classroom situation improves group cohesion, and gives you something fun to do on a Saturday night you’d otherwise be spending watching TV in your hotel room.
Do: Remember that weekend study sessions can be very intense, take some time off work afterwards, or at the very least don’t go straight home on the Sunday and start studying some more! Take a break!
Do: Embrace the fact that this is not going to be an ordinary university class full of people just out of education – there are people from all walks of life on my course, from recent graduates like myself (a minority) to people currently working in law who want to be on the same pay scale as their colleagues, and those who have been in the same job for years and fancy a career change. I’ve met some amazing people in the last couple of months!
Don’t: Take it on unless you’re 100% sure it’s what you want to do.
Don’t: Underestimate the amount of time you need to spend on a particular task or essay, make sure you allow more than you think you’ll need.
Do: Find your own ways to make studying a little more interesting – I favour coloured pens and chocolate-based rewards!
Taking on a distance-learning course puts a massive strain on your social life, but it can be utterly amazing. I’m ever so grateful that I found out about this course, as it’s turning out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but as with most things, it’s not for everyone. For someone who loves learning and really wants to commit to a subject or career move however, it can be an amazing experience.
What amazing things have you learned about recently?