Facing Finals

by ursavoice

Jennah Jones
Director of Student Life, UCI Law

For as long as I can remember, and as long as my family can remember, I wanted to be a lawyer. As a Resident Advisor in undergrad, my boss handed me a stack of brochures about earning a master’s degree in Higher Education. My reply? “Thank you, but I’m going to law school,” as I handed her back the stack of helpful information.

Why do I share this when I’m supposed to be encouraging you about finals? Many reasons actually… You see, two short years after I handed my boss back her stack of grad school materials, I made the tough decision to forego a career in law to study higher education. I feel very fortunate that I found a career I am passionate about, and I see that same passion in many of your eyes.

I can be a bit cheesy and fall for clichés, but the truth of the matter is that I love intellectual conversations, can be a bit of a stress case, miss being in school, and I know what it is like to pour your heart and time into studying, only to experience the stress that comes along with finals. While I haven’t been in your same shoes before, I have been down a similar path. In order to help you manage stress, I will share phrases that appear on three different signs in my office. They helped me in my journey, and hopefully they will help you with yours!

  1. First Dream, Then Stay True to Your Dream. My mom gave me this cute plaque when I started my first post-grad school job at Duke University, a place I always wanted to be. You have all dreamed, and now you are where you wanted to be… one of the best up-and-coming law schools in the country. For the past twenty (or more) years you have put in the hard work and dedication to get yourselves here. Stay true to your dreams, and better yet, true to yourselves. Remember that three years (or less) from now, it will all be over. Look at cold calls, briefs, and finals as a way to stay true to your dreams or as an intellectual challenge to overcome, regardless they will get you to where you want to be one day.
  2. Live well, love much, laugh often. This sign was actually a gag gift from one of my dear friends, based off of an inside joke. It makes me laugh and smile each day… and reminds me to not take everything so seriously. During my three years of grad school I also had a full time job, and I don’t know how I made time for friends and family, (or if I even did). Law school is an important part of your life, but it is NOT your entire life. Going into finals try to take a least 15 minutes a day for “you.” Don’t get so caught up in studying that you forget to live your life. There are a ton of things you can do to take a break from studying, such as calling a family member, playing a quick video game, going for a walk, or having a spontaneous dance party. I would even encourage you to take larger chunks of time once a week to get away from law school life: go see a movie, have a date night, brave the crowds to go shopping, or go ice skating (yes there are actual rinks in Southern California). If you don’t take a few minutes now to enjoy life and laugh a little, when it comes time to take a final you are going to be too stressed to concentrate.
  3. Love What You Do. I’m so lucky that I found a position that combines my childhood dreams of working in the legal field, and my newfound passions for higher education. One day you will find your dream job and will enjoy practicing law. While there will be remnants of how difficult law school was, it will have all been worth it. Trust me, you won’t even remember some of these finals; I know I don’t remember all of mine. All I remember is the unnecessary agony I put myself through as each semester wound down, and now I wish that could have been avoided. The good news is that it can be avoided, and hopefully I can help each of you with that!


Try to remember these three messages as you go into your last weeks of the semester, and feel free to stop by and see them in person if you need to! One of the greatest parts of my job is that I am here to help students. I am here for each and every one of you, whether you want to vent about finals, talk about something completely unrelated, or just escape your daily routine. I wish each of you the best of luck on actual finals and in managing the stress that comes along with them. Remember to take time for YOU!