Small School, Big Opportunities.

April 14, 2009

T.H.. 1L

Yale Law School is about half the size of my college class. I actually took a course in college that had more people than the YLS class of 2011. So I was more than little apprehensive about the size of the school when it came time to make my choice last spring. A small school in a small city—it seemed like an invitation for disaster, or at least boredom. But I’ve found more opportunities and friends within the walls of the Sterling Law Building than I ever expected.

Yes, the class is small. But the size has only had a positive effect on my first-year experience. I wasn’t the only 1L who found orientation a little less intimidating and a lot more rewarding with a smaller group of people to get to know. The whole 1L experience was easier to digest in a smaller setting—easier to find my way around, develop a routine, and start focusing on school. There was none of the dazed, deer-in-headlights look that defined my first weeks trying to navigate college. And a small class size makes it possible to have, well, small class sizes. Combined with a diversity of interests and backgrounds, a small class also means more chances to participate in clinics, journals, and other activities sooner in your law school career. For me, that’s meant working on a journal since last fall, joining a clinic this spring, and developing my writing and researching skills in two semesters of research projects with the ACLU.

Even in this small setting, though, there are surprises. I’m still finding people I didn’t meet first semester, because of our different class schedules. Then there are people I only knew by name or face from a class or activity we shared, but got to know better as the year progressed. After first semester, 1Ls go into general circulation, taking classes with 2L and 3L students. Older students also serve as clinic directors, reading group leaders, and article editors. So in a normal week, I work and play with a varied—and varying—group of people. And that’s just from the Law School…