By Emily Karpinec, Esq., BARBRI Manager of Legal Education
Every law school student learns differently, prepares differently and definitely studies differently. So how do you know if you should join a study group or not? Will it help or harm your possibilities of success?
First of all, a study group can provide support and calm fears. Law school is a terrifying and stressful time, and spending time with your peers enduring the same experiences makes you not feel alone.
Second, if you are totally lost on a concept, think you have got something down but are dead wrong or are just talking yourself in circles, a study group is a great place to bounce ideas off colleagues. Many times, law students think they have a concept down and spend valuable time studying incorrect information, only to go to class and find out they are wrong. Communication in a study group is a checks and balances – if you are incorrect, not expanding enough on a concept or are expanding too much.
Third, having a set study group meet time helps the natural tendency of procrastination. Who wants to study Future Interests at 9 a.m. on Saturday? No one! Having study group colleagues wait on you on that Saturday morning, for example, helps make you accountable and more likely to show and put the time in needed to be successful in law school.
First, Most of us disliked group projects because we felt like we ended up doing all the work. This is how many students see study groups. Many times it can become a social event. It is so important to choose members/colleagues who are disciplined and will help keep the group on track. It is easy to get “off topic,” so you want to surround yourself with dedicated students.
Second, it’s possible you might spend all your time helping your group mates and not concentrating on your own work. You may understand Torts as well as your professor and end up teaching it to your group. Make sure there are limits on helping and that you concentrate on your own studies, too.
The third drawback has to do with your need for complete quiet to study your best. Study groups are typically filled with questions and comments being blurted out on the spot. If you need complete quiet, this will be too distracting and disrupt your studying.
In the end study groups are a great idea if you are the type of person that will actually benefit from them. You know how you study the best (you did make it into law school). Be honest with yourself if you think you will benefit. If not, try and make a few close friends in your section so that you can grab notes if you miss class or are stuck on a concept here and there. Though law school is highly competitive, many students are more than happy to help one another out. Just think, in three years this will all be a distant memory!