Get the Most Out of Your College Study Group



I loathed and detested groups when I was a sniveling college noob. groups tossed together by professors like a scholar salad were usually total wastes! There was always somebody(s) who was irritating and/or distracting, and the group frittered away more time trying to keep them on task than we did actually studying. My rule of thumb was…

15 minutes studying by my lonesome = 1 hr studying with


study groups = waste o’ time

But they don’t have time be jurassic-scale time leeches. Group study can be a monstrously powerful way to go all kung fu on prodigious amounts of difficult studiage. Keep these do’s and don’t’s in mind to tame your corporate study woes…

DO pick your group at least as carefully as you pick your dates (or maybe as carefully as your mom would pick your dates). Shun the fun people; pick the ones that are … shudder … serious about studying. (Granted; they may be tough to locate).

Nor should you necessarily pick the class braniac either. Just because someone quickly grasps concepts doesn’t mean they can explain it to you–or will want to. They may have little patience with those of us who actually have to work for our learning.

“But the prof assigns the group members,” you say. Then you must act quickly to defuse the distraction-prone bone heads infesting your happy little clan. Tip: try scheduling some 8 AM study sessions. That should weed out the less-serious souls among you.

Is there a Dane-Cook-wannabee among you constantly angling for a laugh? A few zingers are okay (even helpful) but they should–like blue eye shadow–be used sparingly. After one of their less successful jokes, politely draw attention back to your group purpose by saying something like, “Okay, attention hound (big smile here to soften it up). We all know you’re channeling Adam Sandler, but the real question is; can you help us ace the exam?” This will serve them the ego boost they’re jonesing for whilst simultaneously labeling their behavior for what it is: attention seeking. It also subtly sets up you and the rest of the diligentsia as “the group,” while implying that their humor is keeping them out of the group. Politics, people.

If all else fails, ask the prof to reassign them (or you) to another group. This is last resort though, okay? Making it the prof’s problem isn’t going to win you any brownie points.

If you decide to take this route, do it as soon as possible after the groups are formed; no waiting until half way through the semester. And, if possible, take some other group members to back you up. One person asking for a reassignment is a whiner. Three people asking for the same thing is a consensus. (more to come)

Other entries in the series "Get the Most Out of Your College Study Group"

  1. Get the Most Out of Your College Study Group
  2. College Study Group: Start and End on Time
  3. Study Group: Agendas and Breaks
  4. Study Group Don’ts