The Impact of Your Surroundings While You Study

Learning Objectives

  • Analyze the impact of your surroundings while you study

If a researcher walked up to you right now and asked you to identify your favorite place to study, what would your immediate response be? Would it be your home—perhaps your sunny kitchen? Maybe your dorm room or bedroom—a relaxed space you can call your own? Maybe it would be a busy café in the heart of town or a remote log cabin, if you have access to one. What are your preferences for your physical surroundings when you study? What are the attributes of your most conducive study environment?

In the following video, Mark Montgomery, an educational consultant and college admissions expert, reminds students that while their image of college may be much about socializing, they will ideally spend a good portion of their time studying. He shows some accommodating physical spaces at Seattle University.

You can view the transcript for “Study Spaces in College: Why Are They Important?” here (opens in new window).

Student Responses

College administrators, like the one in the video you just watched, may have their own ideas about what constitutes good study space. But what do students say? Below are comments from several students about their favorite “go-to” study spots:

Jared: I like to take my laptop into the Alley Café and use the wifi while I write papers and work on homework. It’s in a nice spot and there’s always people around. I need my caffeine and some noise around me so I don’t fall asleep. Recently I’ve been using the library. It’s quieter, but I meet other students there and we use the group study rooms. We work on group projects. I like being around other people when I study.
Butch: I like to study on a picnic table in the garden outside my dorm. Sometimes I just park myself on the grass. But I tend to get distracted outside, so my second favorite place to study is the library. I used to hate libraries because I didn’t like how quiet they were, but then I realized I can actually get work done there. So I go downstairs. There’s a corner that I like, a comfy chair, and I can read or take a nap. If I need to put the pedal to the metal I sit at a table.
LeeAnne: The main library is my go-to. If I need sources for a paper, the staff help me find articles with their online services. There is a wide selection of books, too, but if I can’t find something the staff will order it through a different school or library. Sometimes the space gets real crowded, like during exam week, and it can be hard to find an open computer. But it’s comforting to see I’m not the only student doing a paper last-minute. The best place for relaxing or writing is the third floor. I like looking out the windows at the scenery.

It’s not surprising to find that there are some recurring student favorites when it comes to good study environments. The following locations are all-time winners:

  • A library
  • A bookstore
  • A park
  • A classroom
  • A study partner’s house
  • A community center
  • A tutoring center


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