Where to Study

How to establish a good study place

Though the importance of the decision is often overlooked, where you choose to study is vital in determining how productive your study is. The most common place for students to study is in their apartment or dorm room. Although they are certainly convenient, these are actually not good places to study. There are just too many potential distractions, including roommates, phone calls, television and video games. For some students, the library is the ideal place to study. Others prefer a quiet place in a seldom-used building or a back room. Some even set up shop in an attic or garage.

The Characteristics of a Good Study Place

In order to get the most out of your study time, you need to find a place that’s optimized for learning and information retention. A good study place should be:

  • Easily accessible and always available
  • Free of distractions
  • Large enough to allow you to spread out your books, papers, pens, highlighters and even a laptop without feeling cramped
  • Ergonomically optimized (meaning that you can sit in a way that won’t cause repetitive stress to your hands, wrists, neck or back)

Control the Environment

A study place should be comfortable, but it shouldn’t be too comfortable. Beds and couches might seem like cozy places to study, but they encourage napping (plus, studying in bed can lead to some neon yellow highlighter stains on your sheets!). Many people are surprised to find out that the best environment for study is one that is slightly too bright and slightly too cold. You should also sit in an upright position. This combination will keep you awake and alert.

Some people need total silence in order to concentrate, while others can tolerate some white noise (and may actually prefer it). Quiet music doesn’t always interfere with concentration, but it never helps. In most cases, it’s best to study in complete silence so that your mind isn’t asked to focus on more than one thing. If you feel that you need some kind of background noise, keep the music quiet and try picking something instrumental so you won’t be distracted by lyrics.

There are mixed opinions about whether it’s a good idea to have Internet access in your study place. It can be very helpful to have access to the wealth of information on the Web and to be able to print off notes from your course website, but some students are distracted by instant messaging programs and the myriad of time-wasting websites that exist.

Make It Yours

Once you’ve decided on a study place, stick with it. Try to look at studying as a ritual and your study place as sacred ground. If you’ve set apart a place in your apartment for study, don’t use that place for anything else. Keep it free of clutter so you don’t have to clean it every time you sit down to study. Politely askyour roommates or family to leave your study place alone.

After you’ve set yourself up with a great place to study, there’s only one more thing to do:develop a set of study skills.

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