By Colleen Shanahan
Homework. Group projects. Finals. Quiet time. All of these tasks require a setting that compliments students’ individual needs.
But not all study areas are created equally.
A place that works for most students might be the place that drives you crazy. Here are a few suggestions for finding the study space that best suits your personality.
1) The library
You know… that building with the books in it that you don’t use until the night before your last (and most difficult) final? It is equipped with everything you need to study properly: desks, more information than you will ever need, solo-studier nooks, group study rooms, comfy couches, late hours and the life force of all students : coffee.
Use this location if: being surrounded by knowledge makes you feel comfortable and noise doesn’t bother you.
Why? Some people view the library as the be-all, end-all place to study. It also doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by texts by authors who have come and gone – one may even hold the quote (one that you couldn’t find on the Internet) that will solidify your final thesis; however, you might have to deal with noise. Yes, even at a library people are noisy. But if the library is your spot, a pair of headphones or earplugs can solve that problem.
Avoid this location if: you are a social butterfly.
Why? Everyone, plus one, will be there, so you are more than likely going to see one of your best buddies. This is the (dangerous) start of putting homework or studying on the back burner.
Other places that might suit your studying needs: Local coffee shops, bookstores, or bistros.
2) Your room
Your sanctuary. You find comfort here with pictures of family and friends, and you have access to (almost) everything you need to create the perfect ambiance for studying.
Use this location if: being around your things makes you comfortable.
Why? Some people need to be in their comfort zone to study. For example, someone might not be able even to think about an anatomy textbook without being in his or her favorite, tattered beanbag chair.
Avoid this location if: the sight of your bed turns you into a zombie or your friends know where you live.
Why? The last thing you want to happen is for your well-intentioned study session to turn into 1) a 5 a.m. wake-up and freak -out episode because you fell asleep on your bed reading and your final is at 8 a.m. 2) the social event of the year because your friends decide to recap the semester’s juiciest gossip the night before your toughest final.
Other places that might suit your studying needs: a solo study room, a friend’s room (when he or she is out), or an empty lobby or meeting room.
3) Your desk at lunch
Use this location if: you are strapped for time and can’t break away to another location. Call this a power lunch of sorts.
Why? Who says multi-tasking is a bad thing? Here you get anywhere from 30-60 minutes for homework (with an added bonus of food). If you’ve had a particularly productive morning, use this momentum to make some progress on the week’s assignments. Pop in your headphones and knock off a discussion question or get ahead on some reading.
Avoid this location if: you are bogged down with work and need to use your lunch time for a brain break.
Why? One disadvantage to this location is that moving from work-related tasks straight into homework could equal one overloaded brain. Be sure to keep some down time for yourself.
Other places that might suit your studying needs: the kitchen table, your car, or a closet at home that you can sneak into with a flashlight and lap desk.
4) Three counties away hidden in a shack in the middle of a field with earplugs, doors locked, and windows covered*
This blogger’s favorite study place: *use the optional covering for windows here just in case a wayward animal comes along and decides to frolic directly outside of your window.
Use this location if: your most effective studying comes with zero possibility of any interruptions.
Why? Some people, the author included, need to study in total isolation. Studying becomes a mere fantasy if any distractions exist.
Avoid this location if: you need human contact.
Why? Some people can only take so much of their own thinking. They need others to provide support or give suggestions. They thrive on brainstorming and feed off the energy of a group united in the common pursuit of an A on an exam.
Other places that might suit your studying needs: a local park, a picnic area at a nature trail, or a windowless and soundproof room.
Finding the most effective place to study might not be as easy a task as you would think. The spot that works well one day may not the next. There’s no rule that says you have to stick with the first spot you try. Explore and experiment with a variety of study environments as you try to find that place that best fits your personality and learning style
Just don’t let the search for the ideal study location interfere with your actual study time.
And then once you are lucky enough to find the space that works best for you, make it a habit to use it for studying only. By designating the area as your study zone, you won’t be tempted to do other things while you are there.
Where's your favorite place to study?
Colleen Shanahan, SLU Class of 2010, is a professional English tutor in Saint Leo’s Learning Resource Center. She is married to her high school sweetheart and is an avid reader and writer of young adult fiction. She loves working with students who are looking to improve their writing because she believes everyone can be effective writers if they are pointed in the "write" direction.
Image Credit: rwp-roger on Flickr/Creative Commons
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