Work Life Balance for Law Students at Oxford University?

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lancpe2002
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I got accepted to study B.A. Jurisprudence at Oxford, and, since I am an international students (who has nevertheless done his A-Levels in the UK), I have moved into my College in the past days as agreed.

Before coming, I had the idea in mind that Oxford students who would get strong 2:1s or Firsts were particularly focused and hard-working, especially for a course such as Law.

Since English is not my native language, I had to 'fill the gap' in the past two years by considerably outworking my peers, especially in Year 13 (I was doing 80-100 hours of studying, from 9 am to 1 am on average, taking no weekend evenings off for months). As a result, I was not particularly concerned by the workload, since I thought it could not got much worse than in the past.

Despite this, I had the opportunity to meet several second-year students at my College, some of whose study law and got firsts in first-year examinations, whose have annihilated my pre-conceptions, describing how they worked even less than 40 hours a week in the first month and they nevertheless had plenty of time to socialise (they believe it is the bare minimum but for my standards it does seem a lot).

I know it may sound strange, but I'd have rather heard from them that they never took an evening off for 4 straight months, since I feel puzzled such changed circumstances.

As a result, I would kindly ask anybody who has any knowledge of the average work-life balance of academically strong Oxford students whether such information passed to me is correct or whether first year students instead have to be particularly hard-working.

Thanks.
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liverninthered
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Put it this way, if you find yourself working from 9am to 1pm again you're doing too much - way too much.

You can't really give an "average work-life balance of academically strong Oxford students" as it differs too much between subjects and individuals.

This isn't specific for law but in first year, some people take it very seriously, work long hours and get a distinction (equivalent to first) still finding lots of time to socialise. Others are unorganised, take short cuts, and spend more time not working - they still get decent passes (2.1 equivalent). In some subjects, nobody fails first year - and that's not because everyone's an academic machine.

Oxford say that the average undergraduate does 40 hours a week - why not aim for this during the first few weeks and see how it goes?

Honestly, you'll work this stuff out yourself soon and the best time to ask this question would be when meeting your tutors in the next few weeks. Enjoy it.
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lancpe2002
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(Original post by liverninthered)
Put it this way, if you find yourself working from 9am to 1pm again you're doing too much - way too much.

You can't really give an "average work-life balance of academically strong Oxford students" as it differs too much between subjects and individuals.

This isn't specific for law but in first year, some people take it very seriously, work long hours and get a distinction (equivalent to first) still finding lots of time to socialise. Others are unorganised, take short cuts, and spend more time not working - they still get decent passes (2.1 equivalent). In some subjects, nobody fails first year - and that's not because everyone's an academic machine.

Oxford say that the average undergraduate does 40 hours a week - why not aim for this during the first few weeks and see how it goes?

Honestly, you'll work this stuff out yourself soon and the best time to ask this question would be when meeting your tutors in the next few weeks. Enjoy it.
Sounds fair enough, thanks for the reply.

To be honest I fell more scared by the idea of working 40h and then having to feel meaningfully the other 84 than working 80 (which in my experience it is still manageable, although 100 is a completely different game). I guess I've become a work-alcoholic.
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nexttime
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(Original post by lancpe2002)
I got accepted to study B.A. Jurisprudence at Oxford, and, since I am an international students (who has nevertheless done his A-Levels in the UK), I have moved into my College in the past days as agreed.

Before coming, I had the idea in mind that Oxford students who would get strong 2:1s or Firsts were particularly focused and hard-working, especially for a course such as Law.

Since English is not my native language, I had to 'fill the gap' in the past two years by considerably outworking my peers, especially in Year 13 (I was doing 80-100 hours of studying, from 9 am to 1 am on average, taking no weekend evenings off for months). As a result, I was not particularly concerned by the workload, since I thought it could not got much worse than in the past.

Despite this, I had the opportunity to meet several second-year students at my College, some of whose study law and got firsts in first-year examinations, whose have annihilated my pre-conceptions, describing how they worked even less than 40 hours a week in the first month and they nevertheless had plenty of time to socialise (they believe it is the bare minimum but for my standards it does seem a lot).

I know it may sound strange, but I'd have rather heard from them that they never took an evening off for 4 straight months, since I feel puzzled such changed circumstances.

As a result, I would kindly ask anybody who has any knowledge of the average work-life balance of academically strong Oxford students whether such information passed to me is correct or whether first year students instead have to be particularly hard-working.

Thanks.
Its really varied by individual and by time (working much harder in the run up to deadlines and exams typically!) and your criteria for "academically strong" makes it even harder to estimate.

Oxford suggests workload is about 40 hours per week. This survey suggests 43 hours per week on average.

In terms of real-life variation I've seen: I personally probably averaged something like 28-30 hours per week doing medicine, but I was always content with that mid-low 2.1 not "academically strong". I know someone who did PPE who took the same attitude and he only worked on Monday mornings in his first year. Not even an exaggeration (although I think it picked up before 1st year exams, and in subsequent years). I also knew a guy who did uni-level orienteering (like 20 hours per week), rowed in the college first boat (like another 20 hours per week), still came out with a high first in chemistry, so there are people who worked not much but still got great results.

At the top end a good friend of mine doing medicine literally worked 8am-11pm 7 days per week, and she came top of the whole year - but even they didn't work as much as you!

So... it varies. But you will be an outlier right at the top end for sure.

And final point... and feel absolutely free to ignore... in my experience on TSR and real life, most people find it impossible to work effectively for say >8 hours per day, especially with conceptual academic work. Those people just sit there often just passively reading textbooks and notes, but the number of things that they learned that day that they recall a month later can be measured on 1 hand. Two hours of effective revision would have been a lot more productive than the 12 hours ineffective revision they did. I find the correlation between the amount of work put in and result extremely poor. But then again, my friend who worked 15 hours per day came top of the year so I guess there are some exceptional geniuses who can concentrate effectively for that long. I guess it depends.
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lancpe2002
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(Original post by nexttime)
Its really varied by individual and by time (working much harder in the run up to deadlines and exams typically!) and your criteria for "academically strong" makes it even harder to estimate.

Oxford suggests workload is about 40 hours per week. This survey suggests 43 hours per week on average.

In terms of real-life variation I've seen: I personally probably averaged something like 28-30 hours per week doing medicine, but I was always content with that mid-low 2.1 not "academically strong". I know someone who did PPE who took the same attitude and he only worked on Monday mornings in his first year. Not even an exaggeration (although I think it picked up before 1st year exams, and in subsequent years). I also knew a guy who did uni-level orienteering (like 20 hours per week), rowed in the college first boat (like another 20 hours per week), still came out with a high first in chemistry, so there are people who worked not much but still got great results.

At the top end a good friend of mine doing medicine literally worked 8am-11pm 7 days per week, and she came top of the whole year - but even they didn't work as much as you!

So... it varies. But you will be an outlier right at the top end for sure.

And final point... and feel absolutely free to ignore... in my experience on TSR and real life, most people find it impossible to work effectively for say >8 hours per day, especially with conceptual academic work. Those people just sit there often just passively reading textbooks and notes, but the number of things that they learned that day that they recall a month later can be measured on 1 hand. Two hours of effective revision would have been a lot more productive than the 12 hours ineffective revision they did. I find the correlation between the amount of work put in and result extremely poor. But then again, my friend who worked 15 hours per day came top of the year so I guess there are some exceptional geniuses who can concentrate effectively for that long. I guess it depends.
I see, that seems fair enough.

I'll wait and see, I most likely won't go over 60 hours then and use the reaming time getting involved in the Law, Finance and Consulting Societies as well as preparing for Spring Weeks and Internships.

Thank you.
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nexttime
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(Original post by lancpe2002)
I see, that seems fair enough.

I'll wait and see, I most likely won't go over 60 hours then and use the reaming time getting involved in the Law, Finance and Consulting Societies as well as preparing for Spring Weeks and Internships.

Thank you.
I mean... just see how it goes. If you really needed to work 80 hour weeks just for A-levels then I'd be hesitant to tell you that you should just instantly cut without any other changes! Oxford law is obviously much harder and much more work than A-levels.
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lancpe2002
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(Original post by nexttime)
I mean... just see how it goes. If you really needed to work 80 hour weeks just for A-levels then I'd be hesitant to tell you that you should just instantly cut without any other changes! Oxford law is obviously much harder and much more work than A-levels.
Well, in retrospective it was not necessary to do 80+ hours for A-Levels, I just wanted to get 4A* and get near the highest scores nationally. To get the conditions of my offer, it would have definetly required much less work.
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Estreth
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40 hours a week is a reasonable guide.

But certainly you shouln't be concerned about having time to fill - just because you don't have work set that will necessarily take you 60 or 80 hours a week to complete doesn't mean there's no more 'work' that could be done. You'll get reading lists with way more material than you could actually read in 40 hours a week - just read more of it!
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