When attending a university like Rutgers where large classes are common, students can find themselves confused by the lecture material or unable to grasp difficult concepts while studying on their own. In order to face these issues when they arise, talking with classmates and establishing study groups or study partners can dramatically improve your grade.

Creating study groups or collaborating with a study partner helps in the long term because they bolster the support given by the teaching assistant (TA) or lecturer, while also providing a back-up when a faculty member is not available.

Have you ever walked into a lecture and realized that you don’t know anyone else in the classroom? Students who find themselves in this predicament are often at a loss and not sure where to turn when they feel the professor or TA is unavailable to answer their questions. It is not uncommon to feel alone in a classroom full of strangers.

Your Peers Can Be Your Greatest Resource

Rather than focusing on how few moments you have to ask your questions in class, realize the benefits of interacting with your classmates outside of the classroom to study or review each others work.

Dealing with Anxiety

Many of you might be feeling a bit of social anxiety at the thought of striking up conversation with your classmates. This is totally normal and we have all felt this way before. If this feeling holds you back from being the best student and isolates you from your peers, it is time to take a step back and decide who you want to be in this situation.

Making Friends With Your Classmates

The easiest way to make a change is with baby steps. The first thing you could try is checking the online discussion for your class to see if anyone has shared where they will be studying this week. If not, you can take the opportunity to be the first one to share. Pick a location you already like to study and invite your classmates to come. This way you can choose the start-time and end-time. The Learning Centers of course, are made for study groups. There are Learning Centers on each of the campuses (in Kreeger, ARC, Tillett and Loree). 

Forming a Study Group

If you find your group gets bigger, you can ask the library or student center staff to reserve a space for your group. You would be surprised how many hidden alcoves there are around the campuses that are great for meeting with a small group of students. If all else fails, empty classrooms often have chalkboards and desks that make studying quite easy. Make sure to leave any area cleaner than you found it, of course.

Talking to New People in Class

Start by talking to whomever you think would be the most approachable person in your class. If this is the professor or TA, share with them that you want to get to know some of the other students in class. Ask them if you can announce that there will be a study group session or homework review session at a certain time or place. You can also go to the TA or professor’s office hours to ask questions about the material and possibly meet other students with similar questions. Ask them for a way to let them know when you will be studying so they can join you if they want.

If you feel more comfortable talking to a peer, choose someone who reminds you of a friend and start by saying, “Hey, I have been thinking about studying for this class with some other people, would you be interested in that?” If they say no, you can ask if she or he is aware of someone else in the class who might be interested. Remember, this is not a personal rejection, this person likely just prefers to study alone. A lot of other people will be interested in studying with you.

Learn more about what makes a successful study group and how to start one, or make an appointment with our academic coaches.

Join a Study Group