Dear Dale,

I’ve recently run into problems while studying with my friends. Every time we sit down to work we can’t help but  talk for a majority of the time. I don’t want to stop hanging out with my friends, but I need to find a way to finish all my homework.

-Dis­tracted Diana

Dear Diana,

One of the best char­ac­ter­istics of Hillsdale stu­dents is their affinity for great con­ver­sa­tions, but that also happens to be one of their most irri­tating traits. My favorite mem­ories on campus have come from long, thoughtful dis­cus­sions with friends; however, when there is a pile of the­ology reading in front of you, long dis­cus­sions tend to lose their charm. Luckily, you do not have to drop your friends to get your work done.

The first step to a pro­ductive study session is having set times allotted for only studying. Call it “quiet time” or whatever you prefer, but make any talking off limits. Pick a fair amount of time, 25 minutes for example, and then a five-minute break to follow. Repeat this cycle four times and then take a longer hiatus. Even though you are taking breaks, this tech­nique, called the Pomodoro tech­nique, increases overall pro­duc­tivity and quality of work. 

To sup­plement your studying with friends you should work by yourself some­times. It isn’t always as fun, but chugging through assign­ments on your own is often crucial during those really busy weeks. This solo studying also gives you an oppor­tunity to get work out of the way that you can’t get done with friends around. For me, I find working on cal­culus problems much easier than attempting to write a coherent paper with my friends around. Even if everyone is quiet, trying to read around others is too dis­tracting and you will need com­plete solitude. 

This being said, don’t dis­credit the power of a good Hills­dalian debate. The best way to under­stand a topic is to discuss it, and what better people to discuss with than the nerds you take classes with. If you have writer’s block or just can’t grasp what a pro­fessor was getting at in class, dis­course can iron out wrinkles and give you a new per­spective that oth­erwise you would not have considered. 

Studying with others is far more rewarding than just shutting yourself away in your dorm, but under­standably, it isn’t always the most pro­ductive. Hope­fully these tips can aid you in keeping your grades up while still main­taining friendships.