Online Law School from Your Mobile Phone

Attend Law School Using the St. Francis Mobile Platform

In an effort to make it even easier for students to earn their law degrees, St. Francis School of Law has developed a platform that now allows students to attend online law classes through their mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. This new capability to attend law school online through a mobile device highlights the unique advantage St. Francis’ Silicon Valley location provides to its students in all corners of the globe, from California to Nigeria.

St. Francis’ accomplished students have successful careers and busy lives running companies, travelling, and taking care of their families while still pursuing an online law degree. Most, if not all, St. Francis students simply cannot put their lives on hold to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar law school. While these students require the flexibility of an online education, they desire all the perks of an elite, traditional law school – a distinguished faculty, a challenging curriculum, and dedicated classmates.

St. Francis’ established technology platform is much more robust than that of other online law schools. However, this new feature enhances the flexibility of an already accessible curriculum. Students simply login through their mobile device’s browser or through the free app. Once logged in, students have access to every feature as if they were attending law school online with their laptops. Now if a student is caught somewhere without a laptop or WiFi access, they can still use their 3G or 4G networks to connect to class.

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Efficient E-mail Practices for Online Law School Students

Online Law Degree Success Tips

E-mail can be both the light of our life and the bane of our existence.  It is a fast and easy way to send information and to communicate with each other.  Yet, it can also be a source of too much information (spam or junk).  At St. Francis School of Law, e-mail is one of the primary means of communicating with students,  so we thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on how to use your e-mail more efficiently to ensure that you receive and read the messages you need, get rid of the messages you don’t want, and don’t waste time in the process.

1.  First Thing First

This tip may seem a bit counter0intuitive, but do NOT check your e-mail first thing in the morning (especially on Mondays!).  If you do, you will get stuck in your e-mail for an extended period of time.  Instead of checking your e-mail, check off the most important things on your to-do list.  Get those things out of the way, and then tackle the new stuff that has come up.

2.  Avoid Constant Checking

In addition to getting sucked into your e-mail early, if you check your e-mail first, you will probably be logged into it all day long.  Although this seems natural, it can be quite counter-productive.  If you have your e-mail open all day or set to alert you when new e-mails arrive, you will be constantly distracted and unable to direct your full attention to whatever you are working on.  The constant disruption will surely affect your work process, and possibly your work product as well.  So instead, check your e-mail at regular intervals (once an hour, or once every couple of hours) and other than that, log out of it.

3.  Just Decide

When you do check your e-mail (not first thing and not every five minutes) decide what to do with e-mails instead of just letting them sit in your inbox.  If it is junk or a forward, trash it.  If it is a long e-mail that requires reading for information purposes, do one of 2 things (1) file it in a “To Read” folder (which you should clear out at the end of every day) or (2) print it to read after checking all of your other e-mail.  If the e-mail requires some sort of action, add the task to your calendar, include the subject of the email in your notes of your calendar task, and then archive the e-mail; it will be easy enough to search for later if needed.  If the response require will take just a minute or two, respond immediately and then either archive the e-mail or trash it.

4.  Trash or Archive

When you finish reading or responding to an e-mail, do one of 2 things with it (1) trash it if you will never need it again or (2) archive it.  Running a search through your inbox can be more efficient than creating millions of folders and trying to categorize everything, and looking for it folder by folder.  So you really only need an Archive folder, although you could have a few more if necessary.

If you follow the easy steps above, you will have a clean and tidy inbox, you will find your e-mail use more efficient, and you will never miss an important communication from St. Francis School of Law (or anyone else for that matter!)

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Top 6 Online Law Degree Benefits

What Can Attending Law School Do for You?

There are many people out there who regret getting a legal education, and they will openly tell you that you should not go to law school.  But what they are forgetting are all the wonderful things about law school.

Law school is an experience to say the least.  It is more than just really hard school … it is an entirely new way of thinking that develops a brand new skill set.  Despite being difficult, tiring, and often frustrating, law school can give you some of the best experiences of your life.  Here are some things law school can do for you:

  1. Develop Critical Thinking Skills.  Law school teaches you how to think in a way that is different from every other educational experience.  You are taught to analyze situations from 360 degrees, anticipate what the flip side of an argument may be, and craft responses for arguments that may never be made.  Through use of hypotheticals, role play, and practical exams, law school flips a switch on a different and more analytical way of thinking .
  2. Cross it Off.  Law school may not help you learn exactly what you want to do but it will teach you what you don’t like to do.  Some people go into law school knowing what they want to do, some people go into law school having no idea what they want to do, some people leave law school knowing exactly what they want to do, and some people leave law school only with a vague understanding of what they like.  But EVERYONE leaves law school with knowledge of things they never want to do – for example, prosecuting criminals, drafting complex insurance contracts, etc.  Law school will absolutely help you cross career paths off your list.
  3. Credibility and Prestige.  Some sort of graduate degree is practically required nowadays – it is the new high school diploma.  But a law degree still carries with it a fair amount of respect and prestige that few other graduate degrees do.  The ability to earn a law degree and pass the bar exam means that you are not only intelligent enough to complete the coursework, but dedicated enough to commit and stick with a rigorous program.  This intelligence and commitment is looked favorably upon by almost everyone.
  4. Open Doors.  Despite what most people think, a good percentage of people who go to law school never want to practice law.  Sounds crazy right?  Why would someone go to law school and never want to practice?!  The answer is simple … law school opens doors outside of legal practice.  Legal knowledge is coveted and, despite the number of lawyers, often hard to come by.  A person who earns a legal degree oftentimes can advance faster within a company, can qualify for a higher salary, and can be given opportunities to participate in projects that he or she may not otherwise be able to do.  You may even consider programs that specifically cater to those who want a law degree but don’t want to practice.
  5. Exposure to New Views.  Besides opening doors, law school can also open eyes.  In learning to see things from 360 degrees you will also open your mind to different viewpoints and endless possibilities.  Some of your thoughts and opinions may be solidified in law school and some of them will be molded an changes, but one thing is for sure, almost all of them will be questioned, both by yourself and others.
  6. Life-long Relationships.  Probably one of the biggest things that law school has to offer are connections – both personal and professional.  The people you meet in law school are intelligent and ambitious, just like you.  You will bond with these people because you have similar mindsets, similar interests, and sometimes for the simple reason that misery loves company.  Some of the people you meet in law school will be in your wedding (or you will end up marrying!).  Some of them will help you get a job.  Some of them you will go face in court.  These relationships will still exists 5 years, 10 years, 20 years out of law school.

So when you consider going to law school, make sure you look at both sides of the equation, both the good and the bad, afterall, that is what a good law student (and lawyer) does.

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The Power of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking helps with pretty much everything.  It can bring an inner calm, increase success, enhance relationships, improve health, and in general make day to day affairs more manageable and make life look brighter.

While positive thinking is a huge piece of the puzzle, you also need to develop an overall positive attitude toward life and take the necessary actions to ensure you success instead of just waiting for things to happen.  Positive thinking that actually brings about results requires a complete mental attitude adjustment, not just a few moments of positivity sprinkled over a generally negative or fearful outlook on life.

Here are a few actions and tips to help you develop the power of positive thinking:

  • Use positive words in your thoughts and speech – “it is possible” or “I can” or “it will happen”
  • Disregard, ignore, or push out of your mind those negative thoughts – instead replace them with constructive thoughts.  For example, instead of thinking “This is too hard, I can’t do it,” think instead “This is a challenge that I am ready to face.”
  • Visualize your success before starting anything.
  • Read uplifting or positive quotations or stories as much as possible.
  • Watch inspiring movies or TV shows that make you laugh.
  • Minimize your exposure to the news – yes, of course it is important to be aware of current affairs, but you probably don’t need to hear about the same negative news story on the radio, on the TV, on the internet, and in the paper, in addition to discussing it with friends and co-workers.
  • Surround yourself with positive people and rid yourself of negative relationships.
  • Improve your posture – you will not believe how standing and sitting with your back straight will improve your confidence and positivity.
  • Engage in some sort of physical activity to get those endorphins flowing!
  • Fake it ‘til you make it.  Even if you are not sure about being positive all the time, just try it!  It is just like when you paste a smile on your face – eventually it will turn into a real one.
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Manage Your Exam Anxiety

Most people suffer from some form of performance anxiety when it comes to test taking, but some people have it far worse than others.  Here are some tips for dealing with test-taking anxiety.

  1. Determine your symptoms.  Signs of performance anxiety include procrastinating, easy distraction, irritability, nervous habits like nail biting, hair twirling or finger tapping, trouble sleeping, or a feeling of being paralyzed.  The first set in addressing your anxiety is recognizing your symptoms – what are the behaviors, thoughts, or physical sensations that advance or continue your anxiety?  Maybe you regularly procrastinate on preparing for your classes.  Just as they are about to start you might start thinking negative thoughts about being called on.  Or in an exam maybe you are so overwhelmed by the question that you literally freeze.  Identifying the warning signs is the first step to minimizing them.
  2. Develop coping mechanisms.  After you have identified your symptoms, you need to address them directly with some sort of coping mechanism or method.  For example, if procrastination is one of your symptoms, challenge yourself to prepare in advance of your presentation or exam – create alternative deadlines that are days in advance to give you enough time to practice and review. Or maybe your symptoms are nervous habits like biting your nails or twirling your hair; try wearing nail polish to avoid biting your nails or putting your hair in a ponytail to avoid twirling.  Or maybe you are a perfectionist, afraid of not doing things just so; develop positive thinking in which you tell yourself it is ok to make mistakes.  Don’t criticize yourself for experiencing the symptoms, instead face them head on a figure out a way to correct them.
  3. Prepare.  Much anxiety comes from a lack of preparation.  Keep in mind that both administrative and substantive information are critical to preparation.  Make sure that you know when your exam will be held and how long it is, where the exam is to be held, and the format of the exam – put all these important administrative details in your calendar.  The substantive information will come as your semester progresses.  Be sure to stay up to date with your outlining, review on a regular basis, and ask questions as they come up instead of waiting until the end of the semester.  Regular and detailed preparation can help to ease anxiety.
  4. Visualize.  As you are preparing or studying, envision yourself actually taking the exam in a relaxed, confident state.  You should study and take practice exams in test-like conditions as much as possible to get you accustomed to and comfortable with the experience.
  5. Cultivate Self-Compassion.  When you start to feel anxious, you probably start thinking negatively about yourself – “why am I so nervous over nothing?” or “I’m going to fail anyway” or “I can’t do anything right.”  This negativity will only make you feel worse and fuel your anxiety.  Instead you need to practice positive thinking – be encouraging and supportive of yourself – “this is a challenge but I can do it” or “I am smart that I think I am.”  If coming up with your own encouraging thought is hard try thinking about compliments other people have given you, your past accomplishments, or a positive and relaxing quotation about success.
  6. Reframe.  The way in which we view situations alters our emotions and reactions.  If you think that one exam is the be-all-end-all, make-or-break, ultimate exam, your anxiety about it will skyrocket.  Instead reframe the exam as just one obstacle on the course toward your goal – it does not and will not define you.
  7. Get Help.  If you have trouble working through anxiety on your own, seek out individuals who specialize in dealing with anxiety disorders.  Everyone needs a little help sometimes.
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Simple Ways to Reduce Exam Day Stress

Exam time is almost here and you know what that means … stress!!  Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to completely remove stress from exams, but there are things you can do to lessen the stress and prepare yourself for the day.

Determine Details:  The last thing you want to be worried about on the day of the exam is if it starts at 10 or 10:30, what login name you need to use, and whether it is closed or open book.  Get the details out of the way right from the start of the semester (or as early as possible) and make sure you have things noted in your calendar in case you forget.

Get Organized:  Ever have that dream where you forget your homework?  Well, if you were organized this would not happen.  The same goes for a test!  If you need a webcam, make sure you have one that works.  If you need a mouse, make sure you have one that is compatible with your computer.  If the exam is open book or open note, make sure you have all your materials laid out and ready to go before the exam starts to avoid wasting time.

Carry a Spare:  In the days of number 2 pencils we were always advised to have a few extra or carry a pencil sharpener in case the lead broke.  Now, with exams being taken on the computer, there are other worries.  Make sure your battery is charged and your power cord works.  If you are having problems with these I highly suggest replacing them prior to the test, or borrowing another computer or extra cord just in case.  Also make sure your internet is properly functioning – if you need to, plug into a hardline to avoid being dropped by your wireless connection.

Sleep Soundly:  It is extremely important to get enough sleep before an exam.  Pulling an all-nighter is a terrible idea.  Not only will you be tired and not functioning at peak levels, but your brain will not have the opportunity to categorize what you just learned if you do not let it rest.

Stay Positive:  Confidence is half the battle.  If you think you can pass, you have a better shot at it.  Stay positive and bring that into the exam with you.  It is just a test afterall!

Eat, Sleep, and Be Normal:  Sometimes when students get ito exam mode, everything else falls to the wayside.  But remember, you still need to live your life.  You need to maintain a proper diet, you need to get the recommended amount of sleep, you need to live a normal life, and not give yourself over entirely to finals.

Avoid the Chatter:  Before the exam avoid talking with other students about the subject material.  They might confuse you or bring up a question that you don’t know the answer to … believe me this will stress you out!  You can talk to other students, just avoid the topics of the exam.

Teach to Learn:  The best way to make sure that you know something is to try and teach it.  If you have the opportunity to teach it to another student take it, otherwise try teaching it to a family member or friend.

Try, Try, Again:  Figure out a way to study that works for you, or use multiple different ways of studying.  What works best for one person could be terrible for another.  Try using index cards, or memorizing outlines.  Try study groups where you discuss the material.  Try studying on your own, with a partner, or in a small group.  Try new things and methods until you find what works for you, because eventually you will find something that works.

Practice Makes Perfect:  Take practice exams.  I cannot repeat this enough … take practice exams, take practice exams, take practice exams.  If your test is multiple choice, practice with multiple choice.  If your test is essay, practice with essay questions.  Practice under time constraints and test day conditions as well.  The more you practice the more comfortable you will be with the format and then you will just have to worry about the material being tested.

Read.Every.Word.:  This goes for the instructions and the questions!!  Read very carefully.  One word could make the answer completely different.

In and Out:  Just Breathe … in and out … in and out … in and out.

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Boost Your Confidence!

Something that holds a lot of people back from accomplishing their dreams is their own lack of self-confidence and fear of failure.  But, as you may have heard, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.  Which brings us to the point of this post … how do you increase your self-confidence such that you can go about accomplishing your dream of say, going to law school (or any other dream you may have I suppose)?

Most of the things that make you feel better or make you happier also play into your self-confidence.  Thus, focus on doing things that make you feel better, and slowly your confidence will build.  Below are some easy things that you can do to increase your self-confidence!

Dress to Impress:  Dressing to impress of course includes the basic standards of grooming (showering, shaving, doing your hair, putting on your makeup etc.) and it includes picking the right clothes for the occasion that make you look and feel like the best version of yourself.  But, dressing to impress also includes a couple other things that may be even more important to your self confidence.  Stand tall and straight, being conscious of your posture; this will automatically make you seems more confident and in turn increase your confidence.  Most importantly smile; this may seem silly, but you will be amazed at how a smile will make you feel better and will attract people to you on both a personal and professional level.  Keep in mind that a smile can even be heard over the phone.

Be Optimistic:  Positivity, seeing the glass as half empty, looking for the silver lining … no matter how you describe it, being optimistic will definitely help with your confidence.  If you are generally not a positive person, start by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.  For example if you look at a program you are interested in and think “this is too hard” flip it around and think “this program looks stimulating and challenging.”  If you started reading a case and think “this is too long I want to stop” instead tell yourself “just a few more pages to go!”

Know Thyself:  Get to know yourself to determine exactly what it is you want.  Try writing in a journal or a blog, or perhaps meditation would fit better in your life.  Whatever it is to get you thinking, really do some internal reflection and dig deep to find out what you really want.  When you figure out exactly what you want, it is much easier to go after it!

Be Prepared: Preparing in advance for things helps you feel confident going in.  Do you have a class you might get called on?  Read the cases and take notes thoroughly to avoid stage fright when called on.  Do you have a big exam coming up?  Start outlining and studying in advance so you are calm and collected going into the test.  Having a plan and sticking to it will help reduce nerves and increase your confidence in your own abilities.

Seek Knowledge: Knowledge is the key to success.  Knowledge allows you to empower yourself which is a HUGE confidence booster.  Try reading a new book, brushing up on current events, learning a new craft (knitting or woodworking for example) or if you are feeling extra ambitious go back to school.  There are wonderful online programs that will fit into your busy schedule.

Take Baby Steps:  Often people set initial goals for themselves that are much too high to attain immediately and they are then discouraged when their efforts are not progressing at a rate they would like.  Instead, take baby steps toward a larger goal.  Pick a goal you know you can meet and then do it!  Once you achieve that goal, set another one, then another and another, until you reach your ultimate goal.  The more goals you achieve, the better you will feel about yourself and the more motivated you will be to continue setting and reaching future goals.  This same methodology works with projects that you have to tackle.  Instead of being overwhelmed by a huge project, break it down into smaller more easily managed tasks and work on each task one at a time.  As you mark tasks off you to do list you will increase your confidence in your abilities to get things done and finish the project.

Slow and Steady:  The way you speak impacts the way others perceive you and in turn the way you perceive yourself.  A person with authority will speak slowly and deliberately so as to command the attention of the room.  In contrast, a person who thinks what he has to say is not worth listening to will speak at a rapid pace because he does not want to waste listeners’ time.  Even if you don’t think you have something important to say, or that you just don’t have enough confidence to say it correctly, try saying it slowly.  The first couple of times will seem unnatural to you, but soon it will become second nature.  Of course, you want to avoid extremes as well … don’t take 15 minutes to say one sentence!

Form a Habit:  Don’t tackle anything big (yet), but work on forming a small habit.  For instance you could close your law books and put them in the same place every night, or you could review a set of notecards each night so you are ready for your exam, or you could do something as small as making sure you recap your highlighters every time you use them.  Whatever it is you choose to do, do it for at least 30 days.  When you have done it for 30 days you will feel great, and you will have an excellent new habit!

Just Do It: Procrastinate later!  Now is the time for getting stuff done.  Checking things off your to-do list, and accomplishing the things you have been putting off will make you more confident because you are being proactive and taking control of your life.  Been putting off painting your living room?  Do it this weekend.  Been avoiding that stack of mail on the counter?  Sort it tomorrow night.  Been wanting to go to law school for quite some time but never applied? DO IT NOW!

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