BulletproofPocketwatch

Failed to submit a final paper

12 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

(Apologies for using a sock puppet account for this, but I worry there is information on my other account that would identify me to my friends and I think there's only one person other than my family and my partner who I felt comfortable talking about this with.)

 

The title basically explains my dilemma... I failed to submit a paper for a course last semester, and there were no mental health or compassionate grounds for requesting an extension. I worked fairly assiduously through the semester, from 9:00 to 5:00 maybe 5 to 6 days a week most of the time (including time at school/work), but it looks like I should have used my time differently and made more sacrifices in the end. I spent a lot of my working time doing readings for classes and preparing a summary for my only examinable course, and not enough time doing research for my two papers. (The rest of my course load consisted of a placement for credit and an associated seminar. I didn't participate in any extra-curriculars because I knew I was taking a heavy course load.) The mistakes I can recognize are

  • I overestimated my writing speed and didn't realize how much trouble I was in until it was too late. I barely finished one of the two papers, starting from two weeks before the deadline. There are people who can turn out a 30-page paper in a weekend (maybe not a good one, but at least a complete one), and I am not one of them.
  • Poor management of social time/invitations. I would make plans with friends, and then realize I was behind schedule on my papers. But because the papers weren't due for another month or two at those times, I felt like they couldn't be used as a proper excuse for cancelling, and I don't feel good about lying up sufficient excuses. Sometimes, a person would organize a group get-together, and then everyone would bail except for me and the host, and I felt too bad to bail in those situations as well. I would hang out with friends maybe once every week or two. (I also saw my partner once or twice a week, but I consider that a higher priority than seeing other friends, for myself.)
  • I took a seminar that I found interesting, but struggled with the content. I should have dropped this, but I was optimistic in the beginning and didn't realize how much difficulty I had with it until after the drop date had passed. I completed the paper for this course, but 1) it took me all of two weeks, and 2) I don't think it's a good paper because I barely understood the relevant research. This is through no fault of the professor who taught the course; their lectures were very clear and they often encouraged the class to discuss papers with them.
  • In reading week, I should have been working on my papers, but instead spent most of my working time confronting career anxiety. I have long-standing anxiety about filling out job applications, networking, writing cover letters, etc. to the point where I actually didn't apply to any OCI jobs despite setting aside time every two weeks throughout the summer to work on applications (I spent all those times being overwhelmed and looking through the job postings or staring blankly at my resume). A couple of my friends sat me down during reading week and basically helped me figure out how to write an application despite my anxiety, and I ended up submitting my first job applications ever as a result. (I have misgivings about considering this time spent as a mistake, as it had to happen at some point in my life anyway. But the failed paper kind of gives more "ground" to my fears of inadequacy than they ever had before, so...)

 

My GPA outside of this failure is maybe a low B, and if I'm reading my school's policies correctly, I could be kicked out for failing the course, but likely will be allowed to continue [edit: because my GPA outside of this is high enough]. I question whether I should even bother at this point though. If I'm able to drop the ball this hard, I don't think I should be a lawyer.

 

My family and non-lawyer friends I've talked to say I should just finish my J.D. anyway since I've come this far, and then hopefully a good non-lawyer career will come out of it, but I assume that for my J.D. to mean anything professionally, I will still have to secure articles and pass the bar and all that, no? I honestly can't imagine being hired anywhere, between my social/career anxiety and my bad grades. At the same time, if I drop out, it looks terrible (it is...), and I again don't know who would hire me. I feel trapped and hopeless and ashamed, and I don't know what to do now or who to talk to.

Edited by BulletproofPocketwatch

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Okay, this is one class, right? Before you question your whole future let's get some perspective. You are going to fail or get a very low grade in one course.

 

Is the course even important to your goals?

 

I don't understand the GPA thing. Do people actually calculate the GPA from law school? This must be a new thing... when I was looking for articles no one cared about my A in Tax or my B- in Admin (I think it was Admin. Can't remember now. ) It was my high marks in criminal law classes and my clinical experience that mattered.

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Okay, this is one class, right? Before you question your whole future let's get some perspective. You are going to fail or get a very low grade in one course.

 

Is the course even important to your goals?

 

I don't understand the GPA thing. Do people actually calculate the GPA from law school? This must be a new thing... when I was looking for articles no one cared about my A in Tax or my B- in Admin (I think it was Admin. Can't remember now. ) It was my high marks in criminal law classes and my clinical experience that mattered.

- Oh, they care: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/law-society-gold-medal-and-prize

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whether I should even bother at this point though.

- Chill out. Re-take the course. Move on. Become a lawyer.

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Different schools have different policies and this is a relatively uncommon problem, so this forum won't likely be all that helpful. You need to get in touch with academic affairs first thing in the morning and sort this out. It is sometimes easier to bury one's head in the sand (I say that not in judgment...I've had problems I didn't want to address), but you need to sort this out as soon as possible.

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Go talk to someone at your school who knows what the consequences are. My guess is that you'll prob fail the course, and you'll have to re-take it or another course (probably at a time that is inconvenient for you) but gotta figure that out ASAP. This isn't the end of the world, or even the end of your law school career - you just gotta deal with it.

 

One of the more important lessons a young lawyer can learn (IMHO) is that when you make a mistake/drop the ball you gotta just deal with it, not bury your head in the sand (I'm not saying you're doing that, but it's a bad habit to develop.)

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here were no mental health ... grounds

 

In reading week, I should have been working on my papers, but instead spent most of my working time confronting career anxiety. I have long-standing anxiety .... to the point where I actually didn't apply to any OCI jobs despite setting aside time every two weeks throughout the summer to work on applications (I spent all those times being overwhelmed and looking through the job postings or staring blankly at my resume). A couple of my friends sat me down during reading week and basically helped me figure out how to write an application

 

I honestly can't imagine being hired anywhere, between my social/career anxiety

 

I feel trapped and hopeless and ashamed

 

BPPW, I think you should consider the possibility that there is a mental health factor here, and that you are not in a good position to recognize and address it on your own.

 

I think you should follow ProfReader's advice, but I'd add the suggestion that, when you talk to academic affairs (or whatever it's called at your school), you should tell them that you're going to take advantage of the university's resources to see if there's a mental health factor that contributed to this situation. And then you should do that.

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Do you want to be a lawyer? If you're in law school and still interested in the practice of law, don't let this disrupt you too much. Retake the course (and/or do any supplemental work that may be assigned in lieu of it), get your degree and move on with life. It's a bump in the road, but if you can still get the degree and have a shot at practicing, just as well to keep on going. 

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I am not sure if you need medical help.

 

I think you have to improve your time management skills

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Posted (edited)

I'm kind of making an amateur diagnosis over the internet, which can always go badly, but it does sound like whatever comes out of this specific situation, you have anxiety and avoidance issues you need to deal with squarely to avoid things like this happening again and again in the future. It might be worth speaking (in person, not online) with someone familiar with these issues to see if there are any positive steps you can take.

Edited by Jaggers
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Echoing what whereverjustice said - talk with someone in the Student Affairs office. I did when I was in a situation very similar to you. It honestly put me on the path to finally get help for my long-standing anxiety issues. I was able to get a (very late) withdrawal for a mandatory course. It was also the catalyst to realize that yeah, maybe I did need some help. This could be the moment for you too, OP.

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The fact that you're able to recognize all of that in the detail that you have is a positive thing. As a few others have mentioned, this certainly does not indicate/suggest/imply/whatever that you should not be a lawyer.

 

No one's perfect. The sooner you realize that - and really realize that - the happier you'll be. You know what your weaknesses are - work towards strengthening them. If you suspect you may have issues relating to anxiety, reach out to the support systems in place that were designed specifically for students like you. You'd be surprised at how many successful professionals battle with similar things on a daily basis.

 

You should absolutely not drop out of law school now. Complete your JD and, if you want to be a practicing lawyer, work hard to secure articles. Landing a position isn't easy for a lot of students and you certainly should not search for them with a "I'm sup-par and no one will ever hire me attitude." At that point, you'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy and will likely fail. Play to your strengths while working on improving your weaknesses. We all have weaknesses - even the Dean's List student with a Bay St. job is struggling to improve. The absolute worst thing you can do is not have confidence in yourself and feel like you're not worthy of a successful career. Don't fall into your own trap.

 

If you want to talk, feel free to message me. Otherwise, good luck. Things will improve before you know it.

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