Thursday, December 8, 2016

Last Fall Finals -- Ever!

One of the challenges you may face in law school is figuring out what study method works best you. Do you prefer flash cards? Do you prefer a group setting? Do you learn better alone?

I used to worry about how other people study. I learned quickly commercial outlines didn’t work for me, neither did study groups. I know that I learn best alone. During exam season it’s just me, my textbooks, lecture notes, markers, highlighters, giant post its and my coffee. I prioritize my studying based on the order of my finals, and comfort with the course. I am a visual learner. As I review the material, I take handwritten notes in an outline form. After I’ve finished, I have to see how everything connects. I like using big poster sized post-its. I simplify concepts and write rules and exceptions. Visually seeing how everything connects, in addition to rewriting the rules and exceptions, helps me memorize and understand the law.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I usually reconnect with my classmates after I’ve done most of the heavy lifting for exam season. However, exam season is draining and can induce anxiety. I check in with my Loyola friends throughout exam season, we motivate each other and lean on one another when needed. Here at Loyola, I think most people do study in groups. We have private rooms in the library and when I pass them around this time of year, they are usually filled with groups of three or four. In fact, study groups usually form early on and people stick with their groups throughout the school year. After finals are done, we come together and usually celebrate at LA Live.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Study Groups

While I see the value in participating in study groups, it has never been my preferred method of studying.  I find that my study process that either stops and starts frequently, or launches like a rocket and ends only when there’s no more fuel.  In that context, I feel like my study habits aren’t very conducive to group study sessions.  When I’m having trouble focusing, it’s usually due to other projects or assignments crowding their way into my headspace.  When that happens, I find it best to disengage from what I initially began studying to address the other matter.  That doesn’t go over so well in a group environment.  And when my focus is clear and laser-like, my thought process is best left unexplained.  At that point I just “follow the muse” and do not question my progress until hours later.  In those moments, I probably won’t speak a word to anyone for the entire duration of the study session; conversing only seems to throw me off what I’m doing. 

That being said, I find that it is helpful to bounce my ideas off peers.  I’ll often have a chat window open and exchange ideas and best practices with my peers if we’re working on the same things.  That can be a huge time saver, and it also serves as a valuable echo-chamber where you can hear if your ideas are great, or need serious work.  But I think whether or not you’re studying in a group, it’s important to have a keen focus on your current task.  If a group helps facilitate that focus, then that’s great.  If not, there’s no harm in going it alone. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Importance of Study Groups

Right off the bat, I know that my time in law school would not have been the same if it were not for the friendships that I have made during my short time here. My friends have pushed me into becoming a better student, and helping me gain the confidence that I did not know I had. Throughout the rigors that law school gloriously offers, my peers have been an amazing support system—people that I can turn to and rely on, and most importantly, understand every step of the constant struggle.

I have always been an independent person, so study groups were never really appealing to me. I find that studying by myself limits distractions, and I tend to be more productive because I work at my own pace, and not at the pace of others, who may be ahead or behind with the subject.

However, that being said, I find that there are merits to studying in a group. For one thing, there is solace in knowing that one is not alone going through the ups and downs of constant stress and anxiety. And it is also helpful to study in groups because it can lead to the sharing of concepts/ideas, which can only help you learn better. By teaching or learning from your peers, it helps to reinforce your own understanding, while also reinforcing the understanding of others.

The student body and atmosphere here at Loyola have been more supportive than I thought it would be. The students that I have encountered have been genuine individuals, and eager to help or be helped when offered or asked. I think it surrounds the underlying idea that every student is here for the same reason, and that everyone you encounter is either going through or have been through the same struggles that you are. The relationships that I have made during my time here not only help to maintain my sanity, but also help me grow overall as a student.