A study group can help you tremendously when you’re neck-deep in your studies and you want a sounding board for the things in your course outline that you still don’t understand. Your professors may provide the best insights but they may be unavailable or too busy to accommodate your questions. Your classmates may have something valuable to share, and they’d appreciate your input as well.
Study groups are also great for when you miss class. It would be terrible if you miss class because you’ve been ill and you don’t have anyone to recap the week’s lesson for you. You’ll have people to talk to about your missed classes, and they will even lend you their notes.
Here are some tips for creating your study group.
1. One Study Group Per Class
Start by making connections with your classmates. Say a quick hello as soon as the class opens and make sure you’re on first name basis with the student seated right next to you by the end of the day. A study group starts with just two people, and then you can expand your network.
Study groups are informal and temporary, and it’s also a great way to make new friends. But the thing is, you should limit your recruitment to the people in your class. Students taking the same subject under a different professor may not always have the same insights as the people in your class. His or her professor may be using another reference exclusively, or the methodologies for learning the subject matter are different.
2. Availability and Inclination
Screen your study group members carefully so that you don’t end up with a no-show member, or a slacker. If you devote an hour a day or two hours of your weekend to studying with your group, all the members should do the same. It can be annoying to lose thirty minutes of your precious two hours waiting for a member before you can start. If a pattern emerges and the member doesn’t seem invested enough, start the discussion without him.
Your criteria for selecting your study group mates should be their willingness to meet up outside class hours to study with your group. Some people just don’t do groups, and you can’t force them to join if they would rather study on their own. If a student shows interest in joining, tell him your scheduled study session and ask if he can make it.
3. Choose Responsible Members
Having a study group not only makes reviewing easier, it forces you to read your books regularly and be more responsible when it comes to doing your homework. Your group isn’t a tutorial session and you’re not there to spoon-feed anyone. If you study your references before the scheduled study time, you’ll have more to share when it’s time to discuss. Pull your weight by not using the group’s time to complete a homework or start reading, unless you’ve all decided to do your homework simultaneously.