When things get tough in graduate school, a well-formed study group is a big help. The operative word is “well formed.” A badly organized study group will have little or no effect at all in your academic performance and the success of your group. Why are study groups so important, anyway? The promise of sharing and combining energies will provide a better way to learn. The teamwork will prepare you for future jobs, and the support group system gets you through graduate school.
As much as sharing and networking are important, chaos is the result of over-sized study groups. So, you should keep the numbers manageable. Also, you may sometimes ask your team members to tell you if they can’t make it a particular study session so that you can anticipate task reassignments.
Saying no to slackers
Study groups are for sharing and learning together. Having unproductive members defeats the purpose of putting ideas together. A study group cannot be a tutorial group for some people who are just there to listen and absorb what others are sharing. So, do your homework and come to the study group already prepared.
The question of leadership
For proper management, a leader must be assigned to oversee group study meetings. The leader can be an appointed president, or you can all take turns to be the leader of the study group.
Scheduling the meetings
Every member must benefit from the study group. So, if you are the assigned leader, make sure that meetings will be set at a schedule when everyone is free. Though the occasional absence cannot be completely eliminated, try to motivate your members to come in most of your meetings so that you get the most out of your study sessions.
Preparing an agenda
Even with the most willing of members, a meeting can end up chaotic if there is no prepared agenda. Prepare the topics you have to discuss instead of wasting meeting time with arguing about what topics to discuss.
Forming a group
If nobody has invited you to a study group yet, you can form your own. Do not wait for that invite; there are also others waiting for one. You can invite those who are not yet members of a study group.