As my time at Green Hall winds down, I wanted to reflect on what I’ve learned. I’m not talking about which classes to take or how to study. Instead, as I scramble to finish my bar application by the deadline, I want to share five practical life tips so hopefully 1Ls and 2Ls will be more prepared than I am.
First, when you take the MPRE, it will ask you to select your reporting state. Maybe I’m the only one who made this mistake, but I understood that to mean where you go to school. For some reason, I thought the score would be reported to the school, and then I would get it from there. Wrong. Your reporting state is wherever you plan to take the bar. If you change your mind later, or if you’ve already taken it and made the same mistake I did, it will just cost you $25 to transfer the score, so it’s not the end of the world. But it’s still one more thing I had to do for my bar application.
Second, start writing down all of the addresses of everywhere you’ve lived and all of the jobs you’ve ever had. For the bar application, you will need to include your addresses for the past 10 years. Luckily, for Missouri at least, you’ll only need the full addresses for the past three years, and after that you’ll just need city and state. But it can still be a challenge to think back that far. For your employment, you’ll need to remember when and where you worked, the address and phone number, and your boss’s name. If you’re like me and you had a summer job at a retail store one year in college, you might have forgotten some of these details. Write them down while you remember, or look everything up now so that when the time comes, you can just copy and paste all of that over to the application.
Third, while we’re on the topic of the bar application, start saving now. I know that might not be possible for everyone, but if you have even just $50 or $100 extra a month, put it in a savings account or just make sure not to spend it. You’ll have to pay quite a bit for any of the bar review courses, and the actual bar exam application itself costs a lot. Right now for Missouri, it’s $910 just to apply, plus whatever I owe for the bar review course. And the worst part is you’re going to owe all of this right at the same time. So put away as much as you can right now so it’s not too overwhelming when you get to this point.
Fourth, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of graduation, but make sure you think of a plan early, especially if you have family and friends coming from out of the area. My family is coming from the West Coast, so my mom booked hotels all the way back in August and got the last three rooms at that hotel. Also, places like the Oread and Johnny’s will book their event rooms quickly, so if you’re thinking of having a party with your friends, get on it early in the semester. Remember, we aren’t the only ones graduating that weekend. Plan ahead and get everything taken care of by September or October at the latest so you don’t end up getting shut out.
Finally, enjoy your last year! Go to events you haven’t been to yet. The law school has so many great ones all year, like Casino Night, Pub Night, the Halloween party and, of course, Law Prom. Most importantly, enjoy winter and spring breaks. Even if you don’t go anywhere or do anything super fun, just relax and watch TV and sleep in. Unless you end up being a teacher some day, these are probably the last breaks of your life until you retire. Yikes! So make the most of them!
— Michele Kraak is a third-year law student and KU Law Student Ambassador from Oklahoma City.