You know your college student is having many different kinds of experiences while she is at college. You want her to have experiences that will expand her world, increase her independence, and broaden her thinking. But you also know that your student will be spending a significant amount of her time at college (hopefully!) just doing the work of studying. When you visualize your student diligently studying, where do you picture her? Do you visualize her sitting in her peaceful residence hall room at her carefully organized desk? You might be surprised to find that this may be the least desirable place for her to accomplish her work.
Reminding your student to spend enough time studying maybe one of the things that you expect to do, and your student probably expects to hear that from you. But remember, your student needs to take charge of making her own decisions about studying. If you want to take a slightly different approach that migh help your student do well, you might suggest that he get creative in his thinking about where he is studying as well as how much he is studying. Many students find that having just the right spot to settle in and get work done makes a big difference. Recognizing that every student’s needs are different, and that every campus provides different options, of course, is important.
What should my student consider in looking for a good study spot?
It may be helpful if your student begins by asking herself a few basic questions.
- Do I prefer to study alone or with others?
- Do I need absolute silence when I study or is music or other noise OK?
- Am I easily distracted?
- Will I need my laptop or internet connection?
- Do I need space to spread out?
What might be options of places to study?
Once your student has considered what he needs in a good study space, he can look around his campus, and the neighborhood around campus, to consider his options.
- Studying in his dorm room may be a reasonable option. Materials and equipment such as computer and printer will be close at hand. Food may be available. Your student can easily study late at night – or early in the morning. However, falling asleep in bed may be tempting, and dorms are often noisy and distracting. Music may be playing, activities may be taking place all around, he may be tempted to have the TV on, and friends may be stopping by.
- The residence hall may have a study lounge or library. This will provide fewer distractions and may be quieter, but won’t require leaving the building.
- The college library is an obvious option. Students can often find out of the way corners where they can settle in undisturbed. Wireless internet is available, as well as easy access to reference materials.
- Depending on its location, a town or community library may provide a good place to settle in away from college distractions.
- If the weather cooperates, studying outside on a lawn or bench can be pleasant, although there are likely to be distractions.
- If there is a local coffee shop, that can provide a good place to settle in for a while. There may even be internet access available. However, there will be more distractions here – and it will likely require spending some money to purchase something.
- There might be an empty classroom available. If the classroom is mentally associated with schoolwork, this might provide a good place that speaks “all business”. Students often like to use white boards for study materials and review as well.
- Lounges or waiting areas in public campus buildings sometimes provide pleasant, and often out of the way spots – especially on weekends when there may be less traffic.
- Your student might opt to leave campus and come home to get work done. Often, students may feel that there is too much noise in the dorm and too many distractions other places on campus. This can be an option, and if it is the only way to get studying done it may be necessary, but encourage your student to try to find a good spot on campus, if possible. Leaving campus regularly to come home to study may help study habits in the short term, but won’t allow your student to make connections and stay involved in campus life.
Choosing an appropriate place (or multiple places) on campus to study, and associating those places with studying, may be a key to helping your student succeed. He may not have considered that the location as well as the amount of studying can make a difference. As a college parent, there’s not a lot that you can do about his studying, but you might encourage him to think creatively about when, where, and how he studies.