Tips from a Law School Registrar

This is the seventh in a continuing weekly series of blog posts by Dean Kearney and various members of the Law School administration about the work of Marquette Law School’s Office of Student Affairs. The previous post and links to all prior posts from this series can be found at this link.

As part of this series of blog posts, I thought I might speak directly to our students. Whether you began your journey here knowing a lot about law school or very little, one thing you could be sure of was the need to take classes. Elective courses, the specifics of graduation requirements, how to get a transcript, and many other details relating to your student record all come later. In fact, even registering for classes on your own comes down the road, as all first-year law students are automatically registered. So, while our paths may not cross at the beginning of your law school career, they likely will intersect sooner or later. With that in mind, allow me to share a bit about the role of a law school registrar and how I might be able to help you pursue your goals at Marquette Law School.

In the most basic terms, my primary role as the Marquette Law School Registrar is to build and maintain records. It’s more fun than it sounds. These materials include student information, academic records, and course data. I work collaboratively with colleagues in the Law School’s administration and the faculty to ensure that information about the curriculum is shared with students in a timely and accurate manner. We handle course catalogs, registration materials, dual degree registration, transfer credit, and grade processing and posting.

Along with other members of the Law School’s student affairs team, I meet with students regarding the general mechanics of registering for classes—for example, help with waitlists, enrollment as a graduate assistant or Academic Success Program leader, or any registration that needs faculty approval. I am also always available to meet with students to discuss more general registration questions or plans, especially as they relate to students’ ensuring that they have fulfilled or will soon fulfill their requirements for graduation.

So, now that you know something about my role at the Law School, I want to pass along three tips from my work with students.

First, play the long game when it comes to taking on projects and building out your schedule—there’s no need to overload right away. There are many ways to distinguish yourself in law school—from the doctrinal and skills-based courses you take to the student organizations in which you participate and may help lead. It can be especially fulfilling to participate in a mock trial competition, help edit one of the Law School’s four journals, or complete a supervised fieldwork opportunity.

But you don’t have to do it all—especially right away. Think about classes that can build on each other over time, and intentionally pursue those distinguishing opportunities that make sense for you. Let me encourage you to focus on a couple of opportunities that really interest you rather than spreading yourself too thin and not doing your best. Reach out to your professors, discuss experiences with your classmates and upper-level colleagues, and use the resources available to you to determine what is a good fit for you.

Second, if you have a question, don’t be surprised if our answer, more often than not, is, “We have a form for that.” Whether you want to review your law school application for bar admission purposes, update your records with a name change, or make any number of other requests for information, you can find a variety of forms by clicking here. Part of my work, as well as that of my colleagues Assistant Registrar Stephanie Danz and Student Affairs Office Associate Emma Geiser, is to process these forms in order to get you the information or paperwork that you need. That said, just because there’s a form, this does not mean that there aren’t people here to answer your questions or say a friendly hello when you visit the office, to submit that form or ask questions. For our students’ benefit, we have developed systems, including forms, that we hope make any number of things easy and straightforward for you—but we still want to see you!

Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help. One of the most reassuring things anyone told me in my own journey through higher education was this: “They want you to graduate.” I can now confirm, it’s true. Everyone working here at the Law School is invested in and committed to your success. And we all recognize that no one completes law school alone. From experience, I assure you that it is better to reach out to our office or your professor or someone if something unexpected comes up—before that thing mushrooms. When it comes to registration and graduation issues, for instance, Dean Fodor and I are available to meet with you to come up with a plan together. This is not to suggest that we can wave a magic wand and, say, get you into a fully enrolled class, but we can work with you to explore a bunch of other great options.

As a law student at Marquette, you have a lot of resources both at the Law School and throughout the larger university, which can help you achieve your goals. Marquette Law School’s student affairs team is here to support you throughout your entire journey—from registering you for your first-year classes even before you arrive to certifying your graduation to bar authorities. It’s our job, but it’s much more than that to us.

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