Study Groups: They Are Not for Everyone
uring orientation at the beginning of my first year of law school, they attempted to drill many things into my head. Most of it didn’t stick because I was way too overwhelmed and confused and, oddly enough, DIS-oriented about the whole situation. Out of all the mind-boggling yet-to-be-comprehended, well-intentioned advice given, I wish I had listened and taken the time to apply to the Bar within the first months of law school…it is cheaper if done earlier, will give the Bar time to clear you to participate in clinics during law school, and you won’t be waiting on them to deem you fit to practice after you pass the bar exam.
But I digress. One thing everyone kept pushing was how important study groups are. So, once we got close to our Torts midterm, I joined a few of my classmates for a study group. In theory, it seemed like a good idea. There would be some people to motivate me to study at a specific time, others to bounce ideas off of, analyze cases and law with, help me understand things that are confusing, and, of course, people to commiserate with over the whole process. However, I was used to doing everything on my own and the way I wanted to. My group showed up in one of the empty classrooms, expo markers in hand ready to go over cases and law and eager to diagram (to this day, I still don’t quite get the Carroll Towing thing!). And, there was a lot of discussion, or should I say arguing, over almost every case, what was important to remember and how best to remember it.
In addition to the studying in a manner that was much different than my usual style, there was a lot of time wasted just talking. Then there were food and drink breaks about every half hour, bathroom breaks when anyone had to go, of course people showed up late to begin with and some had to leave early. Basically, the study session went on for about 8 hours, and there was, at most, 4 hours of actual studying that happened.
After one group session, I never studied with a group again. I personally would rather get up when I want to. Have a good meal. Take a relaxing shower. Go to a place I like to study (which was NEVER the library, or as I called it prison). Bring a meal with me from home (so I don’t have to waste an hour getting food or money buying out). And, study for as long as my mind is still sharp (which was never later than about 11pm). I probably got more good studying done in one 8-10 hour day of studying by myself than others did in two 14 hour days in group studying. It’s all about time management. I am a procrastinator, and that works for me. I would rather spend a whole day studying and retaining information than several days studying with people I may, or may not, even like, feel as though I’m wasting valuable time and retaining less information. Don’t get me wrong, study groups worked very well for some people. But the key is to be realistic. If you are not into socializing and are very independent, don’t force yourself to study in a manner that won’t work for you in the long run. Study groups are not for everyone. They definitely were not for me, and I did just fine. I was actually less stressed and less tired (no all-nighters for me), and probably better prepared for exams than several colleagues who heeded the advice from orientation and studied in study groups.