Making Time to Study
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Find a Study Space
All of us learn differently. Some of us concentrate best in completely silent, distraction free settings. Others need some background noise and bustle to keep us comfortable. Whatever your personal learning style, finding an optimal place to study may be more than half the battle.
When hunting for an ideal study space, there are four main factors to consider: resources, comfort, convenience, and distractions. If you have the resources you need to work at home (desk space, computer access, whatever your courses require), your search for a study space will be a bit simpler. Studying at home is probably the most comfortable and convenient option - you can even do it in your pajamas - but it is also most likely to present distractions. If visitors,
phone calls, and the pile of dishes waiting in the sink are going to be more on your mind than the textbook in front of you, home may not be the best workplace for you.
Fortunately, there are other options. Both public and campus libraries are havens for serious studiers. With ample table space, excellent lighting, computer access, and wall-to-wall reference materials, libraries provide almost every resource students could ask for. For those who need a quiet study space, libraries are sanctuaries; many college libraries even provide private rooms or study carrels that can be reserved by students who want a work space where no distractions can intrude.
Coffee shops and restaurants can also be comfortable, well-equipped places to study; more and more cafés offer wireless internet access and conveniently placed tables and outlets for customers with laptops. Of course, these settings only work if you prefer background noise to studious silence.
Ideally, your work space should be a place that you can use consistently. Your brain will switch into study mode as soon as you plant yourself in that familiar chair. Whatever space you choose, be it the kitchen table, the home office, a guest bedroom, or a corner of the basement, try to make it a place that suits you. When your study time is up, you may not even want to leave!
Use Your On-Campus Time
Hey, you have to go there for class, anyway. And if you use your time wisely, you can maximize the benefits that your campus offers. Most college, university, and tech school campuses provide computer labs, libraries, and study lounges for students' use. Even if your campus doesn't have these amenities or if they are too distant to be convenient, an empty classroom can be an ideal spot to go over your notes or finish a reading.
By arriving just half an hour early for class (or by staying for half an hour after), you can take advantage of campus resources as well as of the time you've already had to allot to courses. Furthermore, your family, friends, and coworkers are likely to see class as a better claim on your schedule than mere studying. If you can group a little study time into that class time, you can streamline your schedule, boost your concentration, and get other responsibilities off of your back - at least for the evening.
Find a Study Buddy
Here's a trick most people who exercise have learned: we are more likely to stick to our goals if we've made those goals with someone else. The added responsibility to another person cuts the temptation to procrastinate or to make excuses. And if you can find someone who you enjoy working with, studying, like a morning jog, can become a pleasure instead of a chore.
Try to get to know someone in each of your courses. Exchange names, phone numbers, and email addresses. This way, if either of you ever has to miss class, the other can share notes, assignments, and information. You can also compare answers and discuss what you thought of lectures and readings.