Should I join a study group in law school?

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As a 1L law student, you’ve likely faced numerous questions about how best to tackle your studies. One common dilemma is whether to join a law school study group or stick to solo studying. The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. Every student learns differently, prepares differently, and definitely studies differently. You know you best. But let’s dive into the benefits and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision.

The benefit of a shared experience

Law school can be intimidating and stressful. A study group can provide calming support and much-needed empathy when your nerves kick in. Spending time with your peers who are enduring the same journey helps to make you feel less alone. There’s confidence through camaraderie.

The benefit of group thinking

Are you lost on a concept? Think you’ve got something down but are dead wrong (and don’t know it yet)? A study group is a great resource. Bounce ideas off colleagues. Group think your way to deeper clarity and understanding. The collaborative effort and communication that happens in a study group serves as a checks and balances system, helping you avoid the unfortunate discovery that you’ve been studying incorrect information. You can be alerted if you’re not expanding enough on a concept, or if you are expanding way too much.

The benefit of accountability

Having a set time for your study group to meet works to fight that natural tendency to procrastinate. Who wants to study Future Interests at 9 a.m. on a Saturday? No one! But if you have your study group partners waiting for you, you’ll feel naturally accountable. You’re more likely to show up, participate, and invest the time needed to be successful in law school.

The potential for lack of focus

Study groups can sometimes devolve into social gatherings rather than productive sessions. Many students dislike group projects for this reason. That’s why it’s so important to find and choose disciplined colleagues who are dedicated to staying on track and achieving similar, collaborative goals.

The potential to waste precious time

It’s possible you might spend an inordinate amount of energy helping your group mates, sacrificing valuable time that could be spent concentrating on your own progress and work. You may understand Torts as well as your professor and end up teaching it to your group. You deserve the time you need to focus on your studies, too, so it’s best to set limits early on to manage expectations fairly.

The potential for ineffective learning

There are times when you may need a quiet(er) place to study effectively. Study groups are filled with questions, cross-talks, sidebars, and spontaneous comments. If you need complete silence to grasp complex concepts, the study group environment might be more distracting than beneficial.

Do an honest self-assessment

Joining a study group can offer significant advantages, from collaborative learning to accountability. However, it’s not without its challenges. Assess your personal study preferences and needs carefully when determining if a study group is right for you. Whether you decide to join a study group or go solo, remember that the goal is to find the method that best supports your journey through law school.

If you do decide to forego group study, try making 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. Although law school can be quite competitive, you’ll likely find that many students are more than happy to help one another out. It’s a shared experience, after all!

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