Study tips for college students: How to find or create the perfect study space

College study tipsAlthough fall term’s just starting, it won’t be long before midterms and papers fill your to-do list — so start off the year with some great study habits and the perfect study space. If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. We’ll give you all the details about the best places to study both on and off campus. Short on time and need to stay close to home? We’ve got that covered too. These study tips for college students explain how to turn a section of your dorm room or apartment into an optimal study space.

Don’t be social

Yes, college life is all about the social scene: meeting new people and enjoying your new-found freedom. However, don’t make the mistake of studying where everyone goes to be seen. This causes you to focus on everything (and everyone) except what actually needs your attention.

Of course, your first thought may be the main campus library. After all, it’s quiet and, well, a library. Do this with a hint of caution, and take some advice from contributor john in his post to Covering College Life, “The Best and Worst Study Places in College.” If you do choose the library, “try to go to the highest floor or the most isolated study room on populated floors,” he wrote. “This will remove you from friends and classmates you may be prone to talk to and helps you confront the task at hand.”

Other places that may seem like great options, like the cafeteria and the common area of your dorm, should also be ruled out. If you plan to study in such populated areas, before you know it, your studies are forgotten and you’re heading out to watch the next intramural basketball game with your best bud.

Outside of the box

Think about the environment in which you are most productive. If you love nature, find a park, grab a blanket and a thermos of coffee and set out for a day in the fresh air. Just be sure to have a back up plan if the weather turns rainy or cold.

Need to do a little laundry? Instead of running back and forth, multitask! According to Pat Wyman in an article on HowToLearn.com, “5 Great Places To Study On A College Campus Outside The Library,” posted May 17, 2012, you should try studying in the laundry room. “This may seem like a ridiculous location to study, but often times the laundry area isn’t jam packed,” she explained. “It’s quiet, but with a hint of white noise with the humming of washers and dryers keeping the area from feeling too quiet.”

An article posted to Campus Companion by Dan on October 08, 2012, “4 Places To Study That Are Better Than The Campus Library” offered a few more options:

  • The public library instead of the one on campus — chances are, you won’t see anyone you know there
  • Bookstores — these usually have shops where you can grab a quick bite too, should the need arise
  • Coffee shops — there is usually little noise and free Internet access (no, this does not mean you get to update your status!)

Close to home

If you have no other choice than to study in your dorm room or apartment, you must select an area specifically for this purpose. If your space is small, consider using a room divider or curtain to separate this area from, say, the television, and only use this area to study. Remember to keep the space comfortable, but not so comfortable that you are constantly falling asleep in the middle of a chapter on the history of Grecian art.

In a March 19, 2013 article for CollegePlus, “4 Steps To The Perfect Study Environment,” Nate Desmond explained that keeping the space simple and uncluttered is the key to success. Desmond wrote that you need to “Determine what you actually need to study and remove all distractions. While it may seem tempting to get a desk with lots of shelves, cabinets, and organizers, you will probably concentrate better with a simple, table-like desk.”

You must also distance yourself from social media, television and music (unless it’s the calm, relaxing music that enhances your studies). If you are working on a computer, log yourself out of your email and social websites, so notifications don’t keep distracting you. And set your phone on “do not disturb” and place it out of sight.

Once you have found (or created) your perfect study habitat, visit it frequently so it becomes a familiar haven you associate with hitting the books.

Do you have a tried and true study environment? Where is it, and how did you find it?

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