“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Hellen Keller was talking about study groups when she said that.

In fact, many historical and prominent figures have recognized the importance of study groups. See for yourself:

  • “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a [study group] work.” – Vince Lombardi
  • “Talent wins [quizzes], but teamwork and intelligence wins [midterms].” – Michael Jordan
  • “The strength of the [study group] is each individual member. The strength of each member is the [study group].” – Phil Jackson
  • “I think [study groups are the best thing in the] world…” – Albert Einstein

Why do these awesome people value study groups so much, you ask? Because study groups really work! Studying together with people who share your academic goals doesn’t just lead to better grades for each individual; it allows passionate and intelligent people to pool their skills and abilities in order to learn and grow from each other. Plus, it builds a sense of solidarity that makes the college education process so much more enjoyable. The good news is that, unlike in basketball, the study group Dream Team doesn’t come across only once in a generation. All you have to do is make the decision of joining or starting one!

The following are the members of my study group, each of whom brings something unique and integral to the study group that makes us a stronger team as a whole:

Caroline Vance: The Host

There comes a time when everybody in a study group wants to meet, but unfortunately, not everybody will do something about it. This is why The Host is really important – she will convene the team in times of desperate need. As the initiator, The Host identifies the times that work best for everybody and offers her place to be the meeting point. She especially valued when there are food incentives at play.

Kevin Jiang: The Re-Teacher

It’s a very hard truth that teachers can’t always get the lesson across to students. That’s when The Re-Teacher comes in. Not only does he understand the material, he is also able to make you understand the material. His impressive ways of rephrasing and reframing concepts are like miraculous revelations to the other mortals in the group. After all, teachers come and go, but The Re-Teacher is eternal. (Until he transfers to another major.) #KevinComeBack

*Job Opening: Looking for a Re-Teacher for our study group. Job is good until May 2017. Guaranteed good grades.

Wilson Lin: The Dedicated One

This is the person who always comes to the study group having already studied. Whether you’re all meeting up for homework or to prepare for a test, The Dedicated One has already invested more time than you will. He’s one step ahead of the pack, but he doesn’t mind getting everybody to his level. We need this person to set a high bar for the group.

Reed Markman: The Guy Who Gets It

We all get to that problem in the homework or that concept for the test that we just don’t get. This is when The Guy Who Gets It rises to the occasion and figures out what has bothered everyone for hours in 5 minutes. He just gets it.

Brandon Min: The Entertainer

The truth is that a study group doesn’t meet to just study – they also meet because they want to hang out and have a little fun. The Entertainer makes sure that no one becomes asphyxiated by work or study by bringing jokes, stories and gossip into the mix. This can become a problem when it starts to get distracting…

Katya Sutil: The Dictator

That’s when The Dictator steps in. She keeps everybody in check when they are not being productive, or worse, when they are preventing others from being productive. She is especially on the lookout for the Entertainer and can keep him in line with a simple glare. The group respects (and is afraid) of her aggressive capabilities.

And then there’s me: The Positive Guy

At least that’s how I’d like to think of myself. When times are hard and all hope seems lost, I take it upon myself to raise the group’s spirits – either by convincing them that I am less prepared for the exam than they are or by breaking out in song at 3am in the morning. After all, there’s nothing better than Disney songs to bring smiles to the group when we are sacrificing sleep.

Thus, with these seven different players, we have created our own Dream Team, and we are all better because of it (both academically and personally).

So, how do I go about forming my own Dream Team, you ask? In class, of course! One of the reasons why I love the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC is because of its collaborative environment: everyone wants each other to be successful. By reaching out to people who demonstrate interest and dedication in class, you may organically form a great study group with people in your major that will transcend the duration of a specific class. Best of all, once a few of you start getting together, you will slowly find the right people to add to your study group who will take on some of the roles that will make up your own Dream Team.

Sometimes its hard or intimidating to do this, however, which is why Viterbi offers study groups for specific classes in which you may sign up to study with other people taking the same course as you are. There is also the option of participating in Supplemental Instruction, which is a great program in which students get the best Re-Teachers in town to help them be more successful in engineering classes.

The point is that, at USC, you do not have to go through your engineering education alone. There are people everywhere that want to help you in your academic journey. Although faculty and administrators are always available, it is crucial that students recognize that their peers are also great resources that are willing to help. In my opinion, it is the students who sit beside you every day who are best able to help you succeed (as you will help them) because they are going through the same journey as you are.

I will end with my all-time favourite quote by Henry Ford, a strong advocate for study groups.

“If everyone is [studying] together, then success takes care of itself.”

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Pablo Pozas-2015

Pablo Pozas-2015

Industrial & Systems Engineering, Class of 2017, Learn more on his profile here!