One of the most difficult parts of the transition to college coursework is making a plan to study efficiently. Once you decide on a handful of college options, and start thinking about a major, your next step should be rearranging your lifestyle to be conducive to studying; after all, it’s recommended that you spend two hours studying each week for every one credit hour of coursework you’re taking. And if you can’t find the right time or place to spend those hours, it might take you even longer to absorb the information you need.
Fortunately, there are several options for studying space available.
Key Factors to Consider
These are the main things you’re looking for in a studying space:
- Privacy is one of the most important factors in your study environment. You don’t want people bothering or interrupting you during your work.
- As much as you might think you like ambient noise, the truth is, most of us study better when there’s little to no noise. It’s virtually impossible to find a space with no noise at all, so look to locations with minimal outside noise, and use headphones to block out the rest.
- Depending on what you’re working on, you may need ample table space to spread out your books, notes, and other materials. This isn’t possible in some cramped environments.
- There’s evidence to suggest that ample lighting can improve memory and retention in classrooms; therefore, it’s better if you have a space that’s well-lit. You’ll be able to read and see your materials better, and possibly remember more of what you’re studying.
- This is usually a matter of personal preference, but you should also consider a space with resources you could use to facilitate better studying, such as books, coffee, and snacks.
- Obviously, you’ll want a space that’s easily accessible to you. That might mean close in proximity, or cheap (or preferably, free) to use.
Ideas for Private Studying Space
So what can you use to study?
- The library. Libraries are a standby for studying for a reason. They’re quiet, they’re well-lit, they have reasonable open hours, and they’re filled with books and computers. If you’re in a library on campus, you’ll probably also find tables and workstations where you can set up and study efficiently. You may also be able to meet other students here, and combine your efforts to improve both of your retention.
- A home office or basement. If you’re living at home, or off campus, you may also be able to utilize a home office space for your work—so long as it isn’t in an area of the home with heavy foot traffic, and doesn’t have many distractions, such as a TV. A basement can work equally well; it will be quieter, but you may need to provide additional lighting.
- A shed. Though unconventional, studying in a shed may work out well, so long as you have the space for it. Since it’s away from the house, you’ll have a quieter place to do your studying, and as long as you install the right lighting and a good desk, you could study productively for hours. Best of all, sheds are relatively inexpensive, so it’s likely more cost-efficient to add a shed to your property than to install a new home office.
- The outdoors. If you enjoy the outdoors, you could also study in the park, so long as there’s good weather. The natural light will be a perfect tool to help you read, the fresh air will make you more relaxed, and the only noises you’ll have to contend with are the wildlife around you. The biggest problem here is usually space; there aren’t typically desks in parks, and the wind may blow your notes away from you.
- A café. Cafes are another popular studying destination. They’re well-lit, they offer plenty of studying space, and there’s an endless reservoir of coffee to keep you focused. The biggest downside with cafes is the level of noise you’ll have to put up with.
- An unused classroom. Once you’re on campus, you can look around for an unused classroom to catch up on studying before or after class. These areas are well-lit, and custom-designed to facilitate learning, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better.
- A bookstore. Bookstores offer many of the same advantages as libraries and cafes—especially if there’s a built-in café for your caffeinating pleasure. You’ll probably have a harder time finding a bookstore to study in than a library or café, however, so this one is dependent on your surroundings.
The “perfect” studying space doesn’t exist, so no matter which options you choose, you’ll have to deal with at least some disadvantages. Finding the strengths and weaknesses that best suit your studying style is one of the best approaches you can take here, so experiment with different locations until you find one or two that fit your needs.