Monday, April 6, 2020

Thanks, Coronavirus πŸ˜’

Being stuck in my childhood home was not how I planned to spend this spring. I was looking forward to breaking out my sundresses, finding an awesome pair of shoes for graduation, and finally getting to sit on the patio at restaurants when my fiancΓ© and I had date nights. Instead, I'm in Ohio with my parents waiting to hear what's next. I'm angry, sad, anxious, confused, and so many other emotions. I am dedicating this post to ranting about all the things that have been weighing on me as a result. Feel free to include your own frustrations in the comments.

Before I begin, I want to start by saying that I understand that the measures taken were necessary. Keeping people safe has to come before everyone's enjoyment, even when it's hard. That being said, it's also healthy to express your emotions and allow yourself to feel the things you're feeling. So here we go:

πŸ’” The 3 F's: Friends, Family, and FiancΓ© πŸ’”
I miss everyone. I usually toe the line between introvert and extrovert, and it's nice to have time for some of the projects I've been putting off, but I miss being able to see the people I care about. Going to school was an opportunity to see everyone I've grown close to over the last 3 years. I moved to Georgia without knowing anyone, and the people I've met have become such a huge part of my life. My best friend just had a baby, and I haven't gotten to meet him yet. Another friend has an August wedding this year, and I can't hug her while she decides what to do. Taking online classes where most people have their cameras and microphones off definitely makes class less enjoyable. My grandma on my dad's side is at the end of her life, and I can't go see her because nobody is allowed in nursing facilities. My grandpa on my mom's side had tumors removed from his kidneys this past year, and he can't even go in to his doctor's office to get checked on. My mom and I took him and my grandma over some food, and we had to talk through the screen on the front door. Finally, my fiancΓ© is in Georgia while I'm here in Ohio. It's best that I stay in Ohio since it's where my medical insurance is more widely-accepted, but that hasn't stopped me from thinking about getting a plane ticket back every day. FaceTiming him and our dog doesn't come close to the happiness I get from getting to cuddle up together.

πŸ“š School πŸ“š
I always liked school. I enjoy learning, I make friends with classmates, and it's what will help me to get a job once I'm finally done. Having my classes moved online has not been great. Since the class discussion is hampered by connectivity issues, people being unsure about technology, and the lack of being physically present, many professors have opted to have students post to class discussion boards. This creates more work because we have to write posts to the required length (one of my classes requires 1,000 words or more both before and after lectures) on top of reading for class and spending time in lectures. My law school, like many others, has also changed the grading system to a mandatory pass/ fail system. This means that for each class anyone has this semester, you will get credit or fail the class, but your GPA will stay the same as it was before the semester started. While this relaxed grading system is beneficial to those who may not be able to put as much time into their work or who may not have an ideal place to study, the system prevents anyone from being able to improve their GPA. Myself and many other people in my graduating class purposely took classes which were easier in order to improve our GPAs. In undergrad, I always heard people talk about how "employers don't care about your GPA," but in law school, your GPA is often a major consideration in hiring, especially right out of school. In a state of so much uncertainty, grades may have been among the few things people felt they had some kind of control over.

πŸŽ“ Graduation πŸŽ“
I cannot adequately put into words just how angry and hurt I am that my graduation ceremony got canceled. Graduating law school is a big deal no matter what, but I took a semester off during my second year, and I worked SO hard to make sure I'd still be able to graduate on time with my class. I had to plead my case with the Dean of my law school to demonstrate that I'd still be in compliance with the American Bar Association's standards for earning my degree. I combed through the ABA's requirements and my school's handbook and made an entire binder highlighting why I should be permitted to graduate if I put in the work. The Dean approved my request to graduate, and I put my nose to the grindstone. I took three semesters of credit overloads, and I worked at an internship last summer where I could earn school credit for the work I did rather than getting a paid position. I worked harder than I ever have, and I even managed to make Dean's List and pull my GPA up along the way. The pride I felt in having my hard work pay off and being allowed to graduate this spring was immeasurable. Back in February, a photography company came to our school to take formal graduation portraits. Putting on the sample graduation regalia almost brought me to tears. Getting the email saying commencement was canceled also brought me to tears, but a different kind. I know that the canceled ceremony doesn't take away from the accomplishment, but after everything I did to earn my degree, I was looking forward to a bit of pomp and circumstance. 

⚖️ The Bar Exam ⚖️
The Bar Exam is what determines whether a law school graduate gets to call themself an attorney. It's only offered twice a year: February and July. I was planning to take the Georgia Bar Exam this July, but it's hard to imagine that an exam which requires hundreds of people to gather in one room for hours is going to be permitted to take place when even the summer Olympics are getting canceled. Further, many students are high-risk for contracting the virus, have family members that are high-risk, or have more obligations while the world reacts to the virus. This puts these students in a predicament where they would have to risk their health just to sit for the exam. Many states are postponing the exam until the fall in response to the outbreak. Typically, studying for the Bar becomes a full-time job. The logic is that you need to pass in order to be an attorney, so choosing not to work or earn a paycheck for 2-3 more months is justified to ensure that you can actually do the job that you just spent the last 3 years studying to do.  However, by postponing the exam, this extends the period in which new grads are unable to work at the position they just spent all that time and money on. Plus, student loans are due (fun fact: the average law student graduates with about $100,000 in loans). Many students are also in a position where they have not secured a post-graduate job, and many firms wait until after applicants pass the bar to consider hiring them. Postponing the exam could really hurt many graduates. There is a push to allow graduates to be practicing attorneys by virtue of having graduated from an accredited law school. Wisconsin already has this program in place for anyone who graduates from a law school in the state. Since the subjects tested on the bar exam are already taught and tested in schools, it makes sense that graduates would be knowledgeable enough to practice law competently. After 3 years of school, it's not a stretch of the imagination to think law students know something about the law. Further, many of the subjects on the bar are completely unrelated to what each future lawyer will be practicing. Why make someone study the ins and outs of bankruptcy law when they'll be a divorce lawyer forever? Regardless of how each state chooses to handle the issue, most state bar associations have yet to announce any definite plan. For now, the law school class of 2020 in the dark about their futures.

πŸ’Ό Finding a Job πŸ’Ό
I went to college right after high school, and I went to law school right after college. I've worked a few part-time jobs, a handful of internships, and done a ton of pro bono work, but I don't have much full-time long-term experience. Finding a job in an already-saturated market right out of school can be daunting, but trying to find one with the economy in its current state and during a pandemic has definitely kept me awake at night. I've even started applying to non-law positions since the bar exam is up in the air. If you know anyone in Georgia who's looking to hire a law student with a business degree, please let me know!

πŸ’ Springtime πŸ’
While fall may be my favorite season, spring is a very close second. The smell of flowers blooming, finally getting to put away heavy winter coats and boots in exchange for sundresses, and all the excitement that comes with the looming end of the school year always puts me in a great mood. Now, the only times I get outside is to walk the dog, and I can't justify spending hours on my appearance for a few 30 minute walks. Plus, all my spring attire is in Georgia since I only planned on being in Ohio for a week, and it was snowing during said week. Rather than excitement, there's a gloom in the air, even when it's sunny outside. There's also not much summer fun to look forward to when nobody knows when we'll be out of the woods.

πŸ› Shopping πŸ›
I saved this for last since it's a bit petty (for those of you still reading), but I miss shopping. My favorite stores have been releasing their spring lines, but every time I think I might need a little retail therapy, I catch myself asking what I would actually wear anything new for. I love supporting small and local boutiques and shops, but I also have to worry about my own finances in these uncertain times. I paused my Stitch Fix boxes until things return to some semblance of normal. I daydream about the days when I could go to the mall and window shop with my friends, even if we didn't buy anything. I had my eye on a gorgeous pair of heels that I had planned to add to my graduation ensemble. New outfits were always a way to refresh my closet for spring, and it was a great motivation to get rid of anything I hadn't worn in a while.

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Thanks for reading through my rant. It's incredibly cathartic to write out what you're feeling and get it off your chest. What does COVID-19 have you wanting to scream about? Let me know in the comments!

Make today the best page yet,
Paige

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