One of the best ways to overcome academic difficulties when studying in a new place is to get together with fellow students and pool your knowledge and effort. In other words, start a study group!
In today’s blog, we’ll share some helpful advice on how to start your study group and how you can use it not just for academic purposes but also to meet new people and build strong and lasting relationships with your classmates.
Step 1: Start with One
The idea of suddenly attracting a large group of people at once is quite daunting, right? In that case, start with just one other person. Strike up a conversation with a classmate and bring up the idea of a study group. All you need is that one person to get things started. It may feel like the right thing to find someone just like you, but for a study group, a better idea is to find a group of different people who can all complement each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses.
Step 2: Take the Initiative and Grow
With two of you in place, make it your mission for each of you to go out and recruit at least one more person for the study group. You now grow to four from just two people, which is about the minimum number of people you need for an effective group. If you feel that four people are still not quite enough and you need more, then have your two new members also recruit one more person to make it six or have everyone recruit one more member to make it eight.
We suggest that your study group doesn’t exceed eight, however, since that is likely too many for one group, but in the end, you must decide that for yourself. Remember to focus on building a group of different individuals, bringing a unique strength to the study group.
Step 3: Pick a Location
With your group members now chosen, you should pick a suitable location for you all to meet and study. There are a lot of possible choices, so it’s hard to say exactly which place will suit your group best. Some students automatically pick the library, but that can be hard at times because a study group benefits from active communication. Many people can get a bit too loud for some libraries.
If your local weather permits, an outdoor location provides nice surroundings for a study meeting but ensure that there are big-enough tables to hold your books, papers, and other materials. A public place like a cafe or diner is also ideal, and you can eat together before or after study, which eliminates the problem of organizing food and drink. The downside is the extra expense and possibly excess noise. However, there are many places to suit different budgets and tastes. Another option is to meet in one student’s residence or a student common room.
If one location isn’t suitable for every meeting, you could also set up a “rotating” location. This way, you could create an order over several weeks: Week 1 in the library, Week 2 in the common room, Week 3 at the diner, etc., and then repeat.
Step 4: Set Rules and Make Realistic Plans
With your location confirmed, now it’s time to create a structure for your study. It’s not a good idea simply to all sit in a circle and read books. You should talk to each other and find out where people are struggling. Those who have strengths in one area can work together with those who find that area difficult. There should be a time for idea sharing and discussion. You may want to appoint a group leader to assign tasks and help stay on track.
With roles and goals defined, your group should also make a realistic plan of study. How much material will you cover in each session? How many times can you meet each week or each month? How long will each session be? Be realistic and make it so there’s little chance you will miss your targets. For example, if your group says you will meet four times a week every week for two years. This is unrealistic. You need to plan for vacation time, weekends, times when people might get sick, and so on.
Step 5: Make Study Time Enjoyable
Finally, there should be some fun and a social element to the study group to keep people coming every time. There’s nothing worse for a group than members who only show up half the time, or even less. You won’t meet your goals. The social aspect also allows you to build more meaningful connections to get to know each other better.
Here are some ideas for making study time more fun:
● Create study competitions, games, and prizes
● Bring food and drink
● Have breaks!
● Place study time and social time next to each other, so you can move from studying straight to something social like bowling, escape room, arcade gaming, group dinners, or something else.
Hopefully, the above tips will help you build a successful, productive, and effective study group to make your academic life a bit easier. If you’d like to connect with a diverse set of students and work toward your career goals, contact CSI to find out all the options we have for you.