Things to Do before Summer Vacation in College

When you’re in school, a good long vacation is often exactly what you need. But, when you’re renting and not just moving out of your dorm, you may have some other considerations. That’s especially true in the summer, when all six of us are trying to vacation and visit family all at once. 

It can be pretty easy to forget some little things that end up making a mess or damaging your home. Here are a few tips that can help you avoid that before it happens:

Double-Check Your Outlets

Sure, some of your roommates may be sticking around over the summer, but as for me, I’m hoping to get a short-term position at Conway, Pauley, Johnson P.C. So, I may be gone for most of the summer, with only a few breaks to visit in there. Because of this, I need to make sure I don’t leave any hazards in the house, especially if my bedroom door is locked. 

For me, that means making sure everything is unplugged, all my windows are sealed, and no candles are burning. Some of those may seem obvious, but hey, it’s hard to remember some things when you’re scrambling to get to your car and head home! 

Take Care of Any Pets

This may go without saying, too, but when there are several roommates under one roof, it can be tough to keep track of who’s responsible for any pets. Sometimes, there are unexpected gaps in the summer schedule, where no one is home for some time. What happens to our poor Bartleby, our lazy cat? 

That’s where knowing who’s going to be home makes a difference. For the most part, we all know when we’re going to be in town for events, summer classes, or just a little time adjusting to campus life again. That means we all have regular updates on Bartleby (including cute Instagram photos every day), and we have a little forewarning before someone has to schedule a house-sitter or pet-sitter. 

Clean Out the Fridge

You know how it is—you leave for the beach for a week, and the next, you get home to realize you didn’t throw out the milk before you left. Yeah, that smell is going to last a minute and the Lysol is just going to make your house smell like garbage and lemons. 

Avoid the stink of a full host of forgotten veggies and snacks by checking all the expiration dates before you leave. If you can, avoid some food waste and give those unwanted carrots to a friend to use. If no one wants them, it’s best to throw them out now, not after they’ve gone rotten and made a mess in your fridge. 

Get Ready to Have Fun! 

Getting ready to leave your rented house or apartment for a while shouldn’t dampen your excitement about your vacation. It should mean you can lock up your house and feel confident you didn’t forget anything important. 

Whether you’re making your plans for spring break or planning an end-of-semester getaway, knowing your house is in order can give you a little peace of mind while you’re away. Even better, it can mean coming home to a fresh, safe house, which is way less work for you. That way, you can focus on unpacking, without a lot of trouble and headache in the process. 

Splitting Chores with Busy Roommates

When you’re taking college classes, working regularly, and trying to maintain a solid social life, it’s easy to let certain things slip under the radar. Now, we’ve already talked about clutter before—it’s hard to let six different people decorate at once—but what about literal messes? Who’s responsible for the dishes, who’s responsible for the bathrooms, and so on? 

Worse, what happens when someone gets sick and the house needs disinfecting, or if someone isn’t doing their part? 

Maintaining a healthy environment is a big part of maintaining a happy environment, or at least, that’s what my mom always says. So, how do we manage it in this big house? 

Keeping the Chores Even 

As college students, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is stick to a real schedule. It’s easy to let things slip by, especially when midterms are rolling around. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to make time for what’s important, like keeping things clean. 

That’s why we make sure everyone has their chores split evenly. We made a list at the beginning of the semester, and we divided them out into chunks. No one has to do several hard tasks or clean a whole room, this way. 

We also exchange chores lists on a weekly basis. So, as for me, I hate doing dishes. It’s my least favorite chore. But, when I get it, it’s only my chore for a week. That’s really not so bad, so it keeps us accountable, but not overwhelmed. 

What If Someone Doesn’t Help? 

Back when we first moved in, we had another roommate, a woman named Melissa, who was studying to follow in the footsteps of a lawyer who helped her most, car accident attorney in Riverside, where she grew up. She was the first one to come up with this list, before she graduated—but her boyfriend wasn’t willing to chip in on anything. He didn’t even help pay for the groceries! 

It’s hard to enforce rules like this when not everyone is on board with the situation. Because of that, we decided to add in some consequences. If he didn’t help with dishes, we didn’t cook for him. If he didn’t clean out the coffeemaker, no coffee for him. 

Eventually, he got the idea. A week after we told him what would happen and stayed true to our word, he did the dishes. He was a little grumpy about it for a while, but by the time they graduated, we were even on good terms—and now he handles a lot of the housekeeping for both of them. 

Keeping Good Cleaning Habits

Now that we’re all in a decent cleaning schedule, we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping the house tidy and maintaining some good habits. We’ve even gotten better at all pitching-in when someone is sick. For example, last week, Danielle came down with a cold, so we all sprang into action. There wasn’t a single spot in that house that wasn’t cleaned, disinfected, and safe. 

Keeping a place with six people, plus visitors, clean is tough. Still, it’s our home, and we’re happy to come home to a clean, safe house with a little help from one another. 

Managing Clutter in a Crowded House

When all six of us college students decided to move under one roof, it wasn’t as hard to manage as you may think. We were starting out for the first time living on our own, so between us, we had a lamp, three spoons, and a ratty couch cushion. Of course we had room when we first moved in. 

But after a while, things start to accrue. Some of us are collectors, and some are more appropriately named “hoarders.” So, what do you do when you have a bunch of college students trying to make space under one roof? You make a few rules. 

Keeping the Kitchen Uncluttered

While our kitchen is big enough to seat and feed plenty of people, it’s not exactly huge, by any standards. Because of that, we have to deal with the space we have, and that requires a little coordination. 

While dietary restrictions mean we don’t always eat together, we try to rotate cooking and cleaning schedules. That minimizes the number of pots and pans to be washed, as well as the amount of time we’re all cooking. 

Typically, those of us with special diets cook together. For example, Henry and I are both vegan, which means we don’t eat with the others all the time. However, we can cook together, and Candace, who’s a vegetarian, sometimes cooks and eats with us. The fridge may still be packed, but eating together keeps it bearable. 

Shared Living Spaces and Rules

Our other living spaces bear the most clutter, of course. We all have fun things we love to display, shelves of books for the whole house, and of course, plenty of movies. However, with six people, that gets cluttered fast. 

I thought about getting my dream job at or near Halperin Law Firm, which would be a long drive away. Did I want to take all this stuff with me? Of course not! So, we sat down as a group and talked out what would and wouldn’t go in the living room. 

In the end, we made a rule—if you bring something in, it or something else must go out. For example, if I bought a candle for the house, it needed to be stored, or something candle-sized would need to go. Fortunately, it keeps the house from bursting at the seams. The bedrooms may be a different story, but at least the living room is manageable, right? 

A Fine Balance between Cozy and Chaotic

I won’t lie to you all—things do get a little cluttered, gross, and hectic in our shared living spaces. When we’re in crunch time for finals, staying up late to study, or just unwinding with some weekend football, there’s a chance that at least one of us forgot to clean up our dishes or straighten the throw blanket. 

There’s also a chance that one of us brings home some cool new books, a piece of furniture, or a trinket for the living room. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice minimalism for something a little cozy. 

At the end of the day, what you and your roommates or family consider clutter is completely up to you. Maintaining a steady level of junk is tough when there’s six of you under one roof, but we manage to keep the chaos in check. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference between feeling cozy and feeling claustrophobic, but sometimes, it just seems to work.

Building a College Fitness Routine

When you’re a student, it can feel like you’re only real exercise is running to the bus or stretching those brain muscles. I’m more focused on learning about settlements and how to become a surrogate mother than how many calories are in my food hall pizza. 

Your health is still important, though, and it’s something to give some attention. It’s not about your weight, either. You might feel sluggish, tired, and unfocused if you’re not taking care of your body. 

Still, it can be tough to squeeze in gym time between classes. So, what can you do? Here are a few tips on building a fitness routine that works with your fitness level and with your class schedule. 

Making Time for Your Routine

When you’re taking classes and even keeping a job, it can be difficult to add other obligations and finding time in your day between other obligations like chores, friends, and sleep. 

That’s why you have to make time to exercise. Finding the time can be tough, so looking for places where you have a little room in your schedule is important. 

To make my schedule, I started out with a daily schedule, where I broke down twenty-four hours into half-hour chunks. Then, I blocked off my usual sleep schedule. After that, I factored in classes and meals, then work hours. I even added time for studying with my roommates. 

I didn’t have a ton of time leftover for everything else, but I was able to make a little time after classes. That worked out great for me because it gave me a little break after working out my brain to go for a quick run, lift some weights, and give my body a good workout—not just my mind. 

Accountability Buddies

Once you set your times and dates, getting to the gym is a little easier. Still, it’s easier to go on home, eat some of your leftover pasta, and relax in front of the TV . . . that’s where your accountability buddy comes in. 

Now, that’s especially easy for me and my other five roommates, I know. We don’t always feel like working out, and getting to the gym can be tough. Even if you don’t work out together, encouraging each other on every gym day makes a difference. You don’t want to disappoint your friends, right? 

Finding an accountability partner can be as easy as asking a friend or roommate to work out with you, or to hold you accountable. Knowing that someone is expecting you to get your running shoes on can make a difference. 

Sticking to Your Fitness Routine 

Keeping up your workout regimen isn’t easy; I won’t pretend like there aren’t a lot of days where I’d like to just sit back, relax, and watch other people sweat it out on the treadmill. I also understand that those extra thirty minutes can make you feel better, fitter, and more alert than ever. 

Sticking to your routine is tough, but it can make a big difference. If you’re struggling to change your schedule and add in a little time for cardio or strength training, reach out for help from friends or roommates. Sometimes, having someone on your side makes getting to the gym a little bit easier. 

The Costs of a Legal Education

When you’re in law school, you get a lot of the same comments. Everyone always asks, “So, if I go to jail, you’ll help me out, right?” Sometimes, they might ask about the course load, the hours, or the prestige. 

A lot of times, though, the first comment is, “Wow, that must be really expensive.”

They’re not wrong, but it’s something that a lot of law students are worried about. You can read all the pamphlets you like, but that doesn’t answer people’s worries about debt and affording both an education and groceries. Fortunately, we all have different experiences at the house and different advice for handling money during you law school years. 

Scholarships and Grants

While a lot of people start law school because of the idea that lawyers get paid a lot, the idea of grad school scares a lot of people off, too. 

That’s why we all suggest that you start looking at grants and scholarships right away. Sometimes, your college might even offer programs and stipends that allow you to work on campus, and in exchange, your tuition is reduced or completely wiped away. 

Opportunities like this can make a huge difference in your student debt amount, so starting there can help. It might even mean that you don’t have to take out that loan you were worried about. 

Still, that doesn’t mean your necessities, like groceries and rent, are covered, especially if your parents can’t or won’t help. What then? 

Working Through College 

Of course, one of the first suggestions we all had was to share a house. It’s worked out great for us. Still, the idea of working to fund your education—while getting that education—can be intimidating. Whether you’re working in the office of a Sacramento DUI attorney or bagging groceries, that’s a significant part of your day that you’re not able to study or attend class. 

Luckily, your professors and your employer can help. They should both know that you’re attending school and working, which can affect your available hours. They may be able to be more flexible in your case. 

The key here, though, is communication. Talking to your manager and your teachers about your situation will make it easier to balance your work life, your academic life, and even your social life. 

Funds for the Future 

One of the most important things to remember is that your legal education will affect your future. While all six of us are sharing a house in a little college town now, we’re also working toward and paying for a better future. Fortunately, you have options for funding your education, even if you’re doing it alone. 

Before you worry about getting yourself through college financially, check out these avenues, not to mention other options,like rooming with five of your friends. It may not be for everyone, but it just might work for students like us who are just trying to make their law school dreams a reality. 

When the Families Visit

Dealing with six people in a single house is busy, to say the least. When parents come around? It can be a nightmare. Sure, most of them grab a hotel room for the night, but that doesn’t stop them from all showing up at once in the morning, when we law students are just waking up. 

Keeping up with our jobs, our families, and our classes is tough. You want time with your parents when they visit mid-semester, but what about your grades? Luckily, there are some ways to get around visiting, classes, and other obligations. 

Spending Time with Your Parents

For me, working as a lawyer was sort of a given. My family has a lot of lawyers and a lot of close friends in law. My dad is close with some of the attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Cordova, and one of my cousins works as a public defender in Phoenix. It’s sort of expected that I was going to attend law school. 

Of course, that means my parents are actually pretty invested in my education. They come to visit every opportunity they get, especially since I’m so far away while getting my degree. 

For me, keeping my parents entertained on class days is easy. All I have to do is bring them to campus and let them explore. They love the library set aside for the law students, so it’s easy to keep them busy while I’m in class. For some of the others, it’s as simple as letting them loose on the town, or just showing them how to use the remote at the house. 

Boundaries for Visiting Parents

However close we are to our parents, though, a visit can be a strain. You want to make your parents’ visit worthwhile, but you also can’t put your own life on pause. That’s why it’s important to talk to your parents before a visit. 

While it’s tempting to throw all your studying out the window, breaks are necessary. That’s why I also make sure to sit down with my visiting family and go over my obligations. It might seem a little harsh, but when you’re studying for a career in law, your time to study and prepare for your field is important, too.

That’s why scheduling time with your parents is vital. Knowing when they can spend time with you and when you’re handling obligations can help you both, giving you the space you need for your daily life while also making time for your loved ones. 

A Fine Balance

As a law student, adding a little social time in your life is a delicate balance on the best of days. On the worst, you’re either locked in the library or partying the day away. When you have people who took a plane across the country just to see you, it’s tough to keep the fine balance of the good days. 

Fortunately, you do have options. Family and education is important, and you don’t always have to choose. Instead, find the timing that works for you, so you can see your parents and keep up that GPA. 

Dealing with Homesick Law Students: Henry’s Perspective

It doesn’t seem to matter how independent and strong-willed you are. Nope, everyone gets homesick at some point. That also includes us law students, even if we’ve already been in school for a long time. Some of us only left our home states in search of the best education we could get.

It’s great to know that we’re getting the best education we can, but sometimes, you just miss mom’s home-cooked meatloaf, you know?

Since we started this blog, I’ve been thinking about some of the common problems we run into, especially living together, and homesickness seems to keep popping up. So, how do we older law students deal on the days when you’re sick or alone or just missing out on holiday fun?

Far from Home

It seems like I’m the farthest away from home, and for the shortest time. I grew up in Illinois, and even when I was little, I always dreamed of being a personal injury lawyer in Chicago. I loved when we took trips into the city, so it was always an important place for me.

Now, though, I’m missing it even harder. I finished my undergrad at the University of Chicago, so I spent four years really falling in love with the city. While I’m planning to go back as soon as I’ve got my degree, I do still miss the city, my family, and my old friends.

How I Cope

For a lot of us, it’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgia and homesickness. You come down with a cold, but there’s no one to make you chicken noodle soup and bring you tissues. Still, there are a few ways I deal with homesickness.

One of the most important parts of my week is giving my parents a call. Skype doesn’t exactly make up for an in-person hug, but it can help until the holidays come around. Then, of course, I always put reminders on my calendar about the holidays. I include flight times, when to buy my tickets, and when my holiday breaks begin and end.

Adding time to my year to visit home and see people is important to me, so I always make a point to visit. When I get to go back and make new happy memories, it’s easier to wait again for the next visit.

Surviving Law School and Making Connections

My last tip for those studying out-of-state or away from home doesn’t have to do with visiting parents at all, though. Instead, I suggest making friends and building connections together.

For Nate, Mallory, Candace, Clark, Daniela, and I, that’s not too hard. We share this big house together, so of course we’re together and doing things as a group all the time. However, that’s not always so easy for others.

If you’re missing home and it’s making studying had, try going out with your friends or even meeting someone new. Sometimes, it can make your homesickness a little easier.

Studying with Law Student Roommates

Living on your own comes with a lot of responsibility. You’re expected to keep up with all your laundry, do your own dishes, and keep the place clean. At least the lawn and repairs are handled by the landlord, but sometimes, it’s hard to adjust. Some of us never even had to take care of those things before we moved off to college.

Studying comes with that, too. Plenty of smart kids know how easy it can be to coast by on a good memory when you’re in high school. Law school, though, isn’t so simple. You’re dealing with a bigger workload in general, and that’s tough to balance.

That balance is something we found out the hard way.

Learning to Study

It started with our first semester, during the first few weeks when grades are just coming in. Mallory was the first to get her papers back, and she was upset. She wasn’t a C-grade student, but there it was in red on the top of her paper.

In fact, Mallory is one of the hardest workers in the house. She’s from the rural South and got here on scholarships and grants. In fact, she even wants to return to be a car accident attorney in Alabama. Sadly, now she was worried about that dream coming true. If she’d struggled so much with a test on personal injury law, what other hurdles would the future throw at her?

When the rest of us began receiving average or even bad grades, we knew we had to do something. Sure, taking time to clean and have fun was important, but our grades were on the line!

Flashcards and Notes and Practice Tests, Oh My!

While we’re all studying different fields of law, certain things do carry over. Most importantly,we needed to learn accountability. Separately, it was easy to never ask what the other housemates were doing and whether they were taking time to study. Now, that wasn’t an option.

Unless a big event was happening, we started to meet every night at the kitchen table. It’s a big one, so there’s enough room to set up our laptops, spread out our notes, and get to work. We set a one-hour timer, too. Some of us only need that long for most nights, while others might be up for half the night on an exam week.

If we share classes, that gives us a chance to study the material together, too. Now, it’s no longer an option to sit alone in our rooms, working away at cases we don’t understand. This way, we can ask questions, get answers, and understand the work a little better.

Studying Now for Better Results Later

After all that studying, it didn’t take long to see great results. Mallory was the first, again, to get her test results back. This time, it was a perfect score, and she jumped for joy. The rest of us teased her about taking a break, but we know her too well. That night, she was right there with us, humming as she wrote out some practice summaries.

Now, though, we’re all seeing the results of our hard work. Of course, we all learned a lesson, too. When you’re in good company, even studying doesn’t have to be so bad.