Studying takes up a large amount of any students life. For every unit of class time it is recommended that a student spends twice as much time outside of class studying. Basically 3 units = 3 hours of class time per week + 6 hours of out-of-class study time per week. If you take that one class and turn it in to four 3 unit classes (the common “full-time” course load is 12 units in a 16 week semester) your out-of-class study time should consist of about 24 hours per week! Now, I don’t know about you but finding a good study spot is really important to me! One disadvantage to being a parent in college is that we don’t have a dorm room to separate us from our kids! Studying at home isn’t really productive for many reasons.
Here are a few reasons why home isn’t the best place for moms to study:
- Your children love you and want to talk to you all the time. Or they don’t always get along with each other and run to you for assistance…every five minutes…I’ve timed how frequently my daughter reports her older and younger brothers behavior and it is literally every five minutes.
- Housework. You are sitting at your desk or table struggling with something in any given subject – math, science, English, etc when you suddenly find an escape route — the dishes need to be done, the laundry needs to be folded, the dog needs a bath, the tile needs to be cleaned with a Q-tip…anything to escape the struggle you are facing in your homework!
- Phone calls. Yes we all have cell phones but that darn house phone still likes to ring. And it could be anyone from the newspaper salesperson to your 80 year old Aunt Ida. The point is, it’s distracting when you are trying to focus.
- Beds, couches and every other comfortable surface. Need I say more?
So, here is my list of the Top 10 places to study for moms (and everyone, really)
- The Library. I know this seems pretty obvious but it really isn’t. A lot of students don’t realize that college libraries and community libraries aren’t just about checking out books. The library is an excellent place to study not only because it is quiet but also because there are these magical instruments called books that happen to be excellent resources for writing essays and research papers!
- Your campus tutoring center. While some have restrictions, being in the tutoring center is great because you can ask for help when needed. Instead of being home and putting aside a difficult assignment because you don’t understand you can ask a tutor and tackle that monster right away.
- A coffee shop. I know, so cliche’ right? But really. If you are a firm believer in caffeine consumption than this is the right place for you. But it isn’t simply the caffeine. Places like Starbucks Coffee® offer free complimentary WiFi, tables, and not quiet but usually child-free noise. Not only that but if you plan to study in a group (which is conducive for some, but not for others), you are meeting in a public space.
- Restaurants. When I say that I do not mean places like Red Lobster® or Outback Steakhouse®. I am referring to places who cater to those who need a table, some food, an electrical outlet and WiFi. These places include Denny’s®, McDonald’s®, Panera Bread® and Corner Bakery®. I am sure there are other places as well, but this is my short list to get you thinking in the right direction. If a place of business offers free WiFi, it is usually because they are OK with people sitting down and staying for a while. After all, if you are studying for 5-6 hours you will probably buy at least one meal and a snack…it’s a win-win for everyone! This is one of my top places to study.
- A study partners house. Let me rephrase that — the house of a study partner who doesn’t have children. They may not be your children, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be even more interested in you. But, a study partners house that is quiet is a great idea. That way you aren’t distracted by outside interference’s possible at all of the above. For those who do prefer to study in a group, I recommend the group be at least 3 people unless you know each other really well.
- In a hallway on campus. Sounds awkward? Not at all! One of my favorite places to study was in the hallway of the English department. Yes there were people but I had a desk, a chair, WiFi, electricity and a restroom nearby. I also felt safe and was easy to find by those who wanted to study.
- A community center. Many (if not all) cities have a community center and many of those centers have spaces for reading/studying. It is there for a reason, use it!
- The park. Now this one can be tricky, but if you enjoy being outdoors and won’t be tempted to take a nap it is a great place. You might not have WiFi or electricity, but not all homework requires such things! Being outside is great for getting fresh air and stretching your legs a bit. One recommendation: don’t bring your kids if you expect to focus on your homework.
- A book store. Not the same, but similar to a library. Many book stores like Barnes and Noble® host dozens of students hidden away in corners, or in the built-in coffee shop with their faces stuck in a textbook or laptop. I try not to “borrow” the books when I take this route, but if there is something you can’t find online, you are certain to find it on a shelve. Not quite and quiet as the library, but just as convenient.
- Student services or student life center. While the student life center (or student union on some campuses) can be a happening place during various times of the day, it is also the place where many people go to sit down and focus. You may not be the typical traditional student, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t welcome to utilize the student areas.
Now, if you have no other choice but to study at home, my best recommendation is to work out your family schedule so as to allow yourself hours during the evening or during school time (for those who have kids in school) where you can lock yourself away in your room..AT your desk! I am so exhausted by the end of the day that my biggest issue is the temptation to procrastinate. However, every time I threw down the books and took that extra hour of sleep I always regretted it…SO, tread lightly on bedroom study time. I recommend working at a dining room table as it is less comfortable and might have better lighting.