The Academic Core Enrichment Program (ACE)
The Academic Core Enrichment “ACE” program was started in the Fall 2007. Its objective is to help first year students transition from college or work to law school, and to improve their study skills, learning, academic performance, and comfort in law school. The focus of the program is “study skills,” not doctrine; “study skills” in substantive (doctrinal) courses, not LRW or the “basics” courses.
The program is open to all first year students (and to the international LL.M. students) on a voluntary basis; students may come to any, all, or none of sessions, seek individual counseling, etc. In addition, when suggested by the Office of Students Affairs or by first year faculty, we encourage particular students to attend ACE sessions or arrange for them to receive individual counseling by an appropriate ACE Counselor. We have also assigned faculty mentors and ACE Counselors to second year students who are on or near academic probation and to first year students who have academic difficulties during the first semester.
The program includes several large group sessions on various topics, including introduction to law school, reading and briefing cases, tips for succeeding in the first year (during orientation), reading strategies and case briefing, time and stress management, classroom dynamics (class preparation and participation, note taking, Socratic dialogue), learning styles, reviewing, outlining, and flowchart making, and exam skills and strategies. These sessions include lectures by full-time faculty and panel discussions, demonstrations, and question and answer sessions with ACE Counselors. Sessions are held during the noon hour for day students; for evening students, the sessions are held in the late afternoon or early evening. The faculty who participate in the program include Dean Epps and Professors Duru, Hoffman, Knauer, Murray, and Shellenberger.
Critical to the program is the participation of more than twenty day and evening division upper level students who serve as ACE counselors. This allows the first year students to hear from successful upper level students about how they succeeded during their first years as well as their tips and ideas about the different techniques that have worked for students in the past. The counselors are hired based on recommendations from their first year faculty and after a careful review of their records and interest in helping their new colleagues. They have personal experience with almost all of the first year faculty, diverse backgrounds, different learning styles, and other characteristics so that each first year student will be able to find an appropriate counselor with whom to work if they desire individual counseling. The counselors participate in the large group sessions and are available to provide individual counseling to any students who wants it. During weeks when there are no ACE sessions scheduled, ACE counselors hold office hours (in the day and evening) when they are available to first year students for walk-in individual conferences, tutoring, etc.
There is an ACE program site on Blackboard to which all first year students have access. Among the information posted on the site are the schedule of ACE sessions, biographies, learning style information and tips for success from the counselors, articles about study skills and learning styles, sample study materials, power points from and podcasts of ACE sessions, etc.