ad astra per alia porci

year review
July 13, 2008, 7:14 am
Filed under: diary, Law | Tags: , , ,


It seems pretty late to do a review of the past academic year but due to a flurry of jet-setting and odd job assignments I have to postpone such a grave matter to a more sober and quiet moment, like now. This coming 10 or so days will be my oasis of calm in a holiday period filled with trips, trips and trips (with the time-consuming odd jobs stuffed at the start) and hence it is an appropriate time to recollect what went well the past academic year and decide on a course of action for the new academic year which starts two days after I come back from backpacking across Vietnam.

Semester 2 was spent largely on ensuring that I keep my scholarship and making up for lost ground. I was on probation after my performance in Semester 1 was found to be wanting and I had to do well in Semester 2 to ensure that I continue to study for free and get money I can use for my gallivanting overseas in the years to come.

Fortunately Semester 2 proved to be a good one, as I performed well and more than comfortably cleared the requirement for me to keep my scholarship.

But it is important to understand what went wrong in Semester 1 so that I can avoid living so precariously ever again in terms of my academic life (I am alright with taking chances with my life when travelling).

What went wrong in Semester 1? I think the following are the main culprits which cumulatively resulted in my failure to attain the standard I want:

  • A flippant attitude – I was not concerned enough with my work, and too reliant on the muggers provided by the senior batch.
  • Arrogance – I thought that I could ace the exams easily. I still think I can, but in a more realistic and less dangerous way now.
  • BAD HANDWRITING – I think this was the crucial mistake I made. I remembered that I wrote very badly for Torts and made a conscious effort to produce better handwriting for the Contracts test; voila, I did much better for Contracts than Torts, which is a Pyrrhic victory because Torts counts for twice.
  • Poor essaying skills – I need to learn how to structure my essays better, but this is contingent on knowing what the examiners want in the first place.
  • Not enough participation in class – I should speak up more (especially since class participation counts for many modules).
  • Distractions – I was distracted by my involvement in the stock market.
  • Teething problems – It was my first exam in law school.

In view of what happened in Semester 1, I made a conscious effort to patch up the holes in Semester 2. I toned down my stock market activities to simplify my life. I spoke more in class. I revived the siege mentality that worked so well for me during my JC years.

Hence Semester 2 was a resounding success. I might not have won a book prize or made it into the Dean’s List, but this is largely because of my Semester 1 results dragging down my overall performance for the year. I remain confident that I can make it into the Dean’s list next year, and maybe with some luck bag a book prize to atone for my mistakes in the first year. Contract law and legal philosophy are my key interests and the modules next year tend to focus on the more commercial variants of the law, which plays to my strengths and interests. I couldn’t stand Torts and Criminal Law.

What went well in Semester 2?

  • A “cover all corners” attitude – I left no stone unturned in chasing the grade.
  • Read and made use of more academic articles – I was too naive in Semester 1; teachers look out for more than just the stuff they give us to read.
  • Increased class participation – I knew which modules had class participation points and I did all I could to ensure I had a good mark for it. In particular I am happy with my performance in Legal Theory lessons and I think I left a good impression on both my legal theory and contracts tutors. I also think that my classmates recognise that I am an able (though not brilliant) and hardworking student, which is always a good thing because good impressions count.
  • Focus – In order to ensure that I keep my scholarship, I removed all distractions from my life (e.g. computer games, the stock market). It worked.

That said, Semester 2 wasn’t all smooth sailing.

What went wrong in Semester 2?

  • Lack of innovation – I was too conservative when writing the take-home assignment for Criminal Law, which counts for a whooping 30% of 8 credits. I did not provide my own unique point of view on the matter and instead regurgitate what we were taught already. The grade for that assignment reflected this.
  • Mismanagement of a particular teacher – I am too honest and frank in relation to my interactions with a particular tutor. I spoke my mind and I think I was marked down for that. Yes, teachers are not supposed to harbour and act upon personal dislikes but they are humans too. Sadly, I don’t think I will change this particular trait; I believe too much in straight talk.
  • Misallocation of time – I spent too much time on a module that counted for less and was marked rather arbitrarily and did too little for a giant module.

Looking forward, I hope to build upon the success in Semester 2 and do much better next year. Here are some of the points that I should observe:

  • Commitment – I will maintain the same siege mentality that saw me through JC.
  • Increased class participation – Be more vocal.
  • More personal interaction with tutors – Email them constantly about burning questions and try to forge good relationships with them. I am eager to find myself a mentor.
  • Better time management – Allocate more time to the heavyweights even though I might not like them as much.
  • Form a study group – I was too individualistic last year, and I think a shift to a more social studying pattern might improve my grades further.
  • Talk with colleagues about subjects – I did not discuss problems I had with the subjects enough. Perhaps a shift to a more vocal mode of instruction might help.
  • FORM MY OWN UNIQUE VIEWPOINT – I need to stop being average and test the waters with more radical ideas.
  • Read outside of the alloted material – To gain an edge over the competition. I need to consult my tutors for more recommended material instead of trying to search for them myself all the time so as to cut down time wastage.
  • Improve my handwriting – I am taking a handwriting course now.

I remain quietly confident that I will do better next year, and entering the Dean’s List is a distinct possibility. Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Familiarity – I am in the second year now.
  • Better subjects – I hated Torts and Criminal Law.
  • A plan – I have a plan.
  • Less arbitrary subjects – In particular, legal writing, analysis and research was uber arbitrary and the instruction was nonsensical.

Here’s to the new academic year. I am looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead.


1 Comment so far
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yah i am sure you will be able to get on the dean’s list with no problem. don’t even have to get like all As or anything…whats more it’s YOU we’re talking about ..LOL

Comment by yi san

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