If studying were easy, then school would be easy. But it isn’t and school isn’t. The way that we study is most definitely the key to our success and accomplishments, i.e. that degree. One of these challenges? Studying with friends in different majors.
We still yearn to study with our friends because we enjoy their company and want to be there for each other. After all, when do you need a friend more than you do in college? Never. So what do you do? Cite irreconcilable differences or take it to the library and work it out?
Here’s a how-to guide on studying with friends in different majors.
Get on the same page
If your English major friend tries to craft an outline for her essay while you, an economics major, try to work out a set of problems with your peer, you two will be on two different wavelengths. She needs a quiet, focused environment. You, however, need talkative, productive conversations with your peer.
Rachel Saunders, a business major at the University of Central Florida, said, “When I am studying with other business majors, our common ground tends to be the classes we are taking and the materials that we are learning, so it is easy to focus on those.” When everyone has the same end goal, the path to get there is similar and simple.
However, studying different things shouldn’t stop you and your friends from having similar paths. “Other students have discussed their majors with me, but I have no idea about how to work in certain assignments,” said New York University graduate student Vishal Halwai.
The best way to be on the same page with your friends in different majors? Study and work on similar types of assignments that will put you both in the same headspace, despite the different subjects. If your friend needs to quietly write an essay, then do your reading for the week.
Practice helpful and productive study habits
We always heard our high school teachers preach about time management and healthy study habits. But they never taught us how to study. You just have to do what works for you. That being said, some universal college tips for good study habits do exist. “Good study habits, in my opinion, include being in a place where you’re comfortable, but not your bed, taking a break every 2–3 hours, staying watered and fed, and not pushing yourself to a place of bad mental health,” NYU junior and music performance major Katianna Zaffery said.
Maintaining your health while studying leads to good focus and positive headspace—something we all need if we want to productively study.
Helpful study habits also include social habits. Staying quiet, limiting distracting movements and being aware of your surroundings increase your own productivity and the productivity of our friends. This goes back to being on the same page, of course, if you and your friends don’t need dead silence for a certain assignment, then don’t force it.
The importance of having those study habits understood and practiced should be unprecedented to students. The only thing that would truly lead to failure when studying with friends would be one’s self not knowing how to study at all.
Work together, not against each other
Regardless of whether you study biology or drama, working on assignments can be meticulous and require a great amount of attention and thought. Feeling burnt out? Let your study buddy know. “I feel that some students are afraid of asking for help,” said Springfield Technical Community College electrical engineering major Dessy Coronado.
Do you know how easy it is to deflect your own distractedness onto your friend? As easy as searching for cute cat videos on Youtube. Don’t let your comfortable relationship with your friend unconsciously let you work against their study needs. That only makes studying a waste—and not just for you, but for everyone.
If you need a break, take one. It can prove hard to justify it to yourself when there’s a big paper coming up, but as humans, not robots, we need brain breaks to be productive. More importantly, tell your friends that you’re taking one! It may be hard to step away when all of your friends focus on their own assignments, but they study different things. Being on the same page doesn’t mean working at the same pace. Halawai said, “Everyone has their own way of studying. We can’t have a standard framework for every student.” Work those different ways out together—don’t turn them into disadvantages.
Go on an adventure
Another advantage of studying with close friends as opposed to casual classroom acquaintances? You can try new things. For some, that may mean studying all together in a common room as opposed to a personal desk. Saunders said, “[When studying with peers,] we will often be at some place we associate as academic like the library.”
But that she also noted that is different with her friends. “We spend a lot of time on the couch or around the table studying together,” Saunders added. That could mean comfortable, relaxing or familiar places. Not only can changing up your study space make you more focused, but it can also reduce stress and monotony.
An environment meant for studying does not mean it’s the environment meant for you to study in. Studying with friends who don’t cause you stress adds to that relaxing, new environment, as well. To echo Halawai once again, we all have different frameworks and our own way of studying. Use those differences to find new environments that work best for each other.
Understand first; Offer help later
Friends always want to be there for each other—especially through the academic stress of college. NYU Journalism Professor Pamela Newkirk said, “Students in the humanities are obviously trained differently than, say, students in science or social science… However, when students from different disciplines are in the same class it sharpens their communication skills.” The best part about studying with and having friends in different majors is ultimately the way we can challenge, help, and learn from each other.
Stop Caring About Whose Major is Harder
Be cautious, though, because these advantages can become negatives quickly. For example, the stress of studying for a difficult exam or paper can mean multiple different things for a pre-med student versus a political science major. Saunders said, “I’ve witnessed two of [my roommates] butt heads quite a few times, claiming that one’s material is tougher than the other’s.” A lack of understanding of each other’s worries, studies and assignments can bare the ugly head of academic jealousy and competitiveness.
Like Saunders continued to say, can’t let those disadvantages take control of our friendships and our ability to add, not take away, to each other’s academia. “It’s silly, but we make it work as best we can,” she continued. Making it work means understanding what your friends are going through first. Then you can offer advice or your own set of skills after. “I think studying together can only help all of us grow as intellectuals and do better in school,” said Zaffery.
Zaffery agreed that if we can allow for an understanding of each other, those differing skill sets from our friends with different majors can lead to productive innovation. Newkirk added, “The challenge for each is to be able to convey ideas across disciplines which ultimately forces students to communicate and convey complex ideas at a higher level without relying on intra-disciplinary jargon.” Help each other in your own ways. You might not even know you’re the reason for each other’s success.