Where To Study
Find the right places to study
Knowing where to study is essential to getting good grades.
The choice is first and foremost about creating a physical and mental separation between work and play. Eliminating distractions is key to studying effectively in college.
It’s also about maintaining your sanity. You are going to be spending a lot of time studying, much of it difficult and frustrating. Try to find spots that are private but that aren’t isolated and depressing.
The right spot is going to be different for everyone. It might also change with your mood and what you’re working on. There are dozens of options on campus, so if it doesn’t feel right, move on until you find a set of study areas that do.
I know one place that I consider the very best place to study, but first, let’s talk about where NOT to study.
Avoid studying in your room.
They put a nice desk in your college dorm. You might think “I’ll just use that.”
Bad plan. Use your desk for anything and everything that will prevent you from using it to study.
Do NOT study in a dorm. Seriously. Under absolutely no circumstances should you ever even attempt to study in your dorm room. Too many distractions.
You will muddle on the Internet, talk on the phone, listen to music, text, watch TV, lay on your bed and fall asleep. You will read everything but your assignments.
Worst of all, you will have an endless stream of friends and roommates pulling you in different directions. Their schedules become yours. Close your door and you’ll still hear them outside.
I loved my dorm, but not for studying.
Leaving your room should be your first priority in the morning. Take everything you need for the day. Coming back to the dorm should be your last priority in the evening. If you have to go back during the day, move quickly with stealth and get out of there as fast as you possibly can.
Keep you living space a social place.
Don’t get me wrong. I know it sounds like I hate college dorms, but I don’t. I love them. Some of the best memories and best friends you will ever have will be made in that dorm.
That’s my point.
Your dorm should be a social place. It’s home, not work. It is your refuge from a hard day of classes and studying. It should be a place to relax, rest, and enjoy. Books closed, done for the day.
Go ahead—text, watch TV, muddle on the Internet, talk on the phone, laugh with all of your friends. Distract others who are stupid enough to study in their dorm. Just don’t study in yours. Ever.
Dorm vs Library
I love libraries. As Shelby Foote once said, “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.” Libraries are absolutely the best places to study. Why? You can flip that switch between work and play. The library creates a complete separation between your personal life and your academic life.
Is studying in the library more effective?
Absolutely! Libraries bring focus to your study time. Cold, efficient, get it done, sink it in deep—uninterrupted and highly effective. The kind that gets you A’s and lots of them.
Everyone in the college library has a big bubble around them that protects them from annoying outside influences. “Shut up and don’t bother me” is thick in the air. The silence is deafening. Learning perfection.
Libraries are one of the few remaining places on the planet where even the most obnoxious people will respect quiet. It is the last place on campus where your friends are going to come in and chat it up. Studying in the library is the pinnacle of good study habits. Nothing is better. It brings focus like nothing else.
Libraries are also beautiful places. Colleges invest millions of dollars in their libraries. They are among the most special buildings on campus.
There are multiple floors, a hundred windows, and endless views to pick from. You can vary all of them based on your mood and what’s convenient.
There are still lots of students hanging around, but unlike your dorm, they aren’t talking to you. You can still see them, but you can ignore them, too.
A library keeps you contained and focused, but you can still take a break. You can get up, walk around, read a magazine or newspaper. Many have coffee shops right there.
College libraries are where the research stuff is—the books, the magazines, the journals. And they’re full of librarians just waiting to answer questions. Everything you are going to need for your A— all right there.
You can always find a spot that feels right for you in the library. You can hide in a dark corner or find a bright open area. There are dozens of spots, all with a different feel, all under one roof.
My library spot was at the very back table in the wide open area of the main library. Nobody sitting behind me. A big window for natural light. A wide open view in front of me all the way to the door.
In fact, I used that table so much that it became mine. People literally knew that I lived there and it was rarely used by anyone else.
So enough already. Clearly I like libraries. Go there.
Find some other spots as well.
I love college libraries, but it doesn’t always make sense to go there. Find as many spots as you can where you can quickly take advantage of extra minutes and still avoid interruptions.
One of the easiest spots for a quick study session is right in the classroom. You’re either going into one or leaving one many times each day. Consider arriving early and use the time to get something done.
Best of all, it pretty much guarantees you’ll get the best seat in the room.
If you just finished class, stay right there and get something done. Read 5 more pages or clean up your notes. Why waste time walking somewhere else?
Random study spaces
If you do have to clear out of your classroom, there are dozens of great places to study on every campus. They’re not as good as the library, but they’re good enough. Make a point of finding them.
The places I’m talking about are everywhere. Small groups of tables in some obscure building. A random cubicle next to a window. An outside patio when the season and the weather are right.
These are the places you make the best use of those small blocks of time.
Look at your schedule for each day. Walk the route you’ll take going to and from places you need to be. Search out all of those hidden spots. It’s a great way to get to know your campus and see things you may never find otherwise.
Plan your study spots
A good study plan is not just about what and when, but also WHERE. Every study block you have should also have a location.
Think about where you are going to be and what you have to get done each day. Know where you are going to do it.
Don’t waste time walking to your usual spot if you can find closer a closer alternative.
Minutes matter. Make a plan.
Turn It Off
Finding a good study spot is about eliminating distraction.You’ll kill the whole point if you bring the distraction with you.
Do your best to become ‘indistractable‘. There is nothing more detrimental to studying than your cell phone. Nothing.
There are apps that you can download to block things off at certain times—but you already have that. It’s called Airplane Mode—or OFF.
Or even better, put your phone in the bottom of your bag and just ignore it.
Whether you’re studying for two minutes or two hours, don’t respond to anything. You’ll be amazed at how much more, and how much faster you’ll get things done.