How to create an epic off-campus study space


By: Danni White, Uloop

When you live on campus, almost everything is right at your fingertips. Friends, supplies, activities, and cool hangout spots are right down the hall or right around the corner. You can even reach quiet places such as the library or your dorm in a matter of minutes.

But when you live off campus, not everything is that readily available. For daily studying, and especially for last minute studying, you will need a comfortable but effective place to hit the books. It might not make sense to travel to campus every day, especially if you don't have class, but finding a place that is quiet and suits your needs is essential.

Studying away from campus may even make you more efficient and effective. A change in scenery and less distraction are some benefits that can increase concentration.

So with that said, here are some considerations for your study space off-campus:

1. The coffee shop

The coffee shop is my all-time favorite place to read, write, study, or to get anything else done. Of course, this is double the fun if you're a caffeine addict and you like to see your favorite baristas.

Some people say that Starbucks (which is widely available) is a bit too noisy and often crowded for reading and effective studying. Personally, I do not think so. The background noise essentially helps me to study and some difficult concepts seem to stick better. The noise, except for the occasional loud laugh, is generally at a consistent level.

If you absolutely cannot have any noise or sounds while studying, consider expanding your search. Go to a non-franchised coffee shop or one that only operates locally. (The coffee shop on campus may not fit this description, as many of your fellow classmates and friends will crowd this shop).

One good thing about studying at the coffee shop is that it typically provides things like snacks and refills that no other study space provides. So you can study there for eight hours straight without actually breaking to go somewhere else for lunch.

2. The library

Most universities have a main library as well as smaller libraries that are specific to certain departments (e.g., a library for social sciences or a library of medicine). Typically, these are great options for those who prefer to stay near the campus or to take study breaks in between morning and afternoon classes.

While libraries are relatively quiet places, I've found that most of them have the same consistent level of noise at a coffee shop like Starbucks may have. If you prefer to get away from the campus, consider heading to the local public library or to another library perhaps at a college across town or even in a nearby city. Public libraries tend to have a "no noise" policy and employees are more likely to enforce it.

By heading to a local library, you are more likely not to bump into people you know, thus running the risk of chatting and catching up instead of actually studying. Local libraries, especially those in relatively big cities, are less likely to be crowded during the week and that will allow you to spend less time jockeying for a good spot.

3. A tutoring center

This may sound a little strange but even if you are not meeting with a tutor for help with math or writing, these tutoring centers often have space where you can plant yourself and study for hours without being disturbed. And if you do have a question, someone who can help is just a head turn away.

A similarly suitable place could be a local sports arena or gymnasium especially if no games or practices are in session. Consider the local Boys and Girls Club, Boy and Girl Scouts, and the YMCA/YWCA facilities.

4. Your apartment or home

I would note this as the last option for good studying. For one, everything you own is basically right in front of you. You can find a thousand things to do at home other than studying. Two, all your friends and family know where you live and they can pop up at any time, presenting yet another distraction. Then, of course, there is Netflix, the TV, pictures, and souvenirs that can take away time from studying.

However, if you are a disciplined person or you can train your mind to focus on one thing at a time, then studying at home will work for you. For me, there were many days I had to study at home and with frequent interruptions from family, it made for no easy task. However, training my mind to focus on the paper or the book in front of me helped me get through college and continues to help me in other areas.

So, you can make studying at home effective. Just make sure you keep distractions to a minimum, essentials nearby, and study away.

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