July 2, 2021
Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #31 - Forming Study Groups in a Virtual Setting
Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Forming Study Groups in a Virtual Setting
Thanks to the pandemic, it has never been easier to be a hermit! From one introvert to another, let me say that I understand the low-key sigh of relief that aspect of Zoom-school can be. However, in law school, a study group is much more than just a social group: it’s a support system. Whether you’re a SCALE I, traditional student, or recent transfer, we hope these tips will help you create a helpful system—and what to do when you’ve created an unhelpful one.
Forming a study group is not a marriage proposal. In the first year of law school, you are more inclined to be polite, go with the flow and ignore your own learning style. You are still figuring out what works for you and what does not, and so it is a mistake to overcommit before knowing what works for you.
It doesn't have to be the end of a relationship if you do not find studying together is the best for your learning. Get to know your classmates, network with others, make some friends!
Horses for Courses
Everybody studies differently, and just because somebody studies differently than you do does not mean they are a bad study partner. Use your differences to work toward mutual advantages; maybe the person compliments you by being strong in something that challenges you. For example: If you’re not well-versed with networking, maybe you feel shy, a study partner who goes to office hours or TA sessions can fill you in—or better yet, motivate you to come along. Alternatively, if you’re not the most organized person, then try to find someone who is!
We all have different skills to bring to the table. Study groups can mean forming a mutually beneficial learning experience, and you can leave each other better law students and future attorneys as a result. Speaking from experience, we have used this method to great success.
When a study group becomes inefficient or even begins to become harmful for you, try to recognize the signs and act on them.
Study groups are wonderful experiences and real bonds can be formed out of them that go beyond studying. However, recognizing that a study group is detracting from your learning as opposed to facilitating it, then deciding to leave it, is crucial for your success in law school.
There are lots of reasons why a study group may not be working for you. Maybe one person tends to dominate the conversation, only letting their opinion be heard, and shutting down others. Perhaps your study group has become a big group of Friends, and each meeting is The One Where Nobody Does Homework. For you, maybe the group is simply too large to have one cohesive study schedule.
Nothing against them, of course! At Southwestern, your cohort are all bright people but we each are unique in how we learn. Make sure they know it’s nothing personal, but don't wait until your first grades are published to realize "I might need a different study partner(s)" to maximize your potential before excusing yourself.
In conclusion, what we're trying to say is: there are many fish in the sea. Maybe you're a mermaid among a bunch of salmon. We don't know your story, but we guarantee there are others out there, just like you.
-Jeffrey and Chris
*About the Authors:
Chris is a SCALE student who graduated from California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo) with a degree in Political Science. He has a considerable amount of experience in civil litigation as a trial paralegal prior to attending law school in fields that include family law, employment law, and personal injury. Upon studying law at Southwestern, Chris is now interested in pursuing Criminal Law as a career and is currently a certified law clerk for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Out of all the titles he has held, father is the one he is most proud of. He and his incredibly supportive wife have two wonderful children under 5 years old (one boy and one girl). When he is not roughhousing with his kids or reading cases, he likes all sports, cars, and craft beers. He also enjoys helping people accomplish their very best, so do not hesitate to contact him.
Jeffrey L. is a SCALE II student who graduated from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Economics. At Southwestern, in addition to being a Dean's Fellow, Jeffrey serves as a SCALE Ambassador. He is the proud father of two (feline) children, who will undoubtedly introduce themselves on any Zoom meeting.
This summer, Jeffrey will be working as a law clerk at the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office in the Organized Crime Division. After graduating from Southwestern, he hopes to work in cybersecurity and data privacy. His hobbies include building and repairing computers, playing video games (though he's not very good), and trying craft beers at local breweries. Jeffrey looks forward to helping you achieve success at Southwestern!
Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.
Please click HERE to make an appointment with a Dean's Fellow.