Time is ticking – I’ve got a laptop running on low battery, three tasks that should have been done yesterday, and a new coffee maker that I have yet to figure out. Although the new semester is only just beginning, why is it that I already feel a week behind?
Nervous? That makes two of us. Even though I'm not a freshman, I still get the jitters before the first day of class.
I know I should be immune to this feeling, but I'm not there yet. College continues to be uncharted territory and at this rate, I’m not even sure I have the right map to guide me through without a hitch.
But you know what? Forget maps. Elle Woods sure knows a thing or two about excelling in class and around campus. (And about style!) Here are a few tips on starting the semester strong, as told by Legally Blonde.
About the Movie
Directed by Robert Luketic, this 2001 American comedy film stars Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a stylish sorority girl turned savvy law student.
When a dinner date turns sour and a hopeful proposal ends up as a breakup instead, Elle looks into options to win back then-boyfriend Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis). With encouragement from her sorority sisters, she studies hard in order to be admitted to Harvard Law School where Warner is continuing his studies.
Armed with a score of 179 on the LSAT and a stellar 4.0 GPA, Elle is determined to prove that she is worthy of a ring from Warner. However, she quickly finds that she is unlike her classmates in all aspects – Elle has trouble keeping up with the readings and even gets called out by her professor.
Elle quickly becomes motivated to show everyone that she is more than capable of being a law student. Her hard work even allows her to work with the defense for an important legal case.
From challenging stereotypes to cracking open high-profile cases, this blonde shows us that solid effort, along with a little patience, can overcome any obstacle.
(Want to watch the movie before reading further? Check out the film here.)
Here are a few of the best back-to-school success tips I learned from Legally Blonde:
1. Seek a balance and organize.
Take some time to sit down and think about what’s coming up this semester. Do what you need to do – look over your class schedule, mark important dates, map out areas on campus. Planning ahead can help put your mind at ease.
While Elle did receive admission into law school, she was not prepared for this unfamiliar world of Harvard. Strict professors, along with unaccepting classmates, motivated her to demonstrate that she deserved her spot at this prestigious school.
Her first step to getting serious? Purchasing a laptop. (Who doesn't love this amazing scene?)
You’ve probably already checked this of your to-do list, so count that as a win. Just remember, it’s never to early to buckle down and get organized. The steps you take now will pay dividends once the semester gets crazy.
2. Connect with students in your classes.
In the film, Elle’s inability to prepare for the class discussion results in her getting kicked out of a lecture hall by an uptight Professor Stromwell. However, she meets Emmett (Luke Wilson) through this class and he gives her some helpful tips on how to deal with tough professors.
From huge lectures to small recitations, it never hurts to reach out to someone in your classes, or even a teaching assistant. The more people you get to know, the more potential sources of help for the class. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find your next study buddy.
3. Get to know your professors.
I used to think that introducing yourself to your professors on the first day of class was a bit excessive, but letting them know who you are - through class participation and/or attending office hours - can go a long way.
Throughout your college career, you’ll most likely find different opportunities that require a list of references or a letter of recommendation. When that time comes, a professor who you’ve established a strong relationship with can be of great assistance.
After providing additional feedback during a class discussion, Elle is asked by Professor Callahan if she is applying for an internship at his law office. She then goes on to snag that internship (even though unfortunately Callahan turns out to be a creep).
Follow her example and try to participate at least once every class or take advantage of office hours. (Just, obviously, beware of dudes like Callahan!) Being attentive and aware will not go unnoticed.
4. Find the ideal study space(s).
According to the New York Times, studying may be more effective if you don’t limit yourself to studying in the same place each time. The article explains, “When the outside context is varied, the information is enriched, and this slows down forgetting.”
In other words, don’t be disappointed when someone grabs that one table you’ve been using for the past few weeks.
Unsure of what your ideal study spaces are? Set up your rotation now -- try hitting up a local coffee shop, grabbing a table at the campus library, or staying at your desk. During the semester, you'll feel burned out and you'll be glad to have these spots ready to go.
Elle was seen studying almost everywhere – at the library, on the treadmill, and at Paulette’s salon. If she can do it, so can you.
What are some things you do to prepare for the semester? What movie are you watching next? Comment below!