You’ve started in a new program and adjusted your life to fit around your classes. Congratulations! This is the first step toward pursuing a new career or advancing your current one.
Many students agree that enrolling in college is a smart investment in the future, but protecting that investment once classes begin is just as important. It’s easy to fall behind when starting a program in the midst of your already busy life can cause students If you’re started to feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone!
We connected with Rasmussen College students who have been in your shoes to collect their best study environment tips. Different tactics work for different people, so take a look at their advice and determine which tips you can incorporate into your study routine.
12 study environment tips from students who’ve been there
1. Diminish the distractions
Any environment can be destructive with too many interruptions. Some students find their living spaces too distracting—they sit down to do work, but a pile of dirty dishes causes them to lose focus. Some students find background music soothing and others can’t concentrate with it playing.
The key is that everyone has different preferences. Identifying your distractors and minimizing them will help you focus on your work. Practice with background sounds and locations until you find the golden combination.
2. Campus library, public library … any library
It seems so obvious but many people forget about these silent sanctuaries. Libraries are meant to be quiet. These places of muted noise and minimal distractions have been helping students cram for centuries. Bring your headphones if prefer adding some soft sounds, or just revel in the peaceful, page-turning sound of other students hard at work.
3. Kick it in a coffee shop
A majority of coffee shops these days offer WiFi to customers. While this may not be a feasible option for students balancing work and family, those who can hack it love it! Find a caffeinated cafe near you – or even one on your way to and from school – and set aside some time to sit in public anonymity while sipping your beverage of choice. Keep some headphones on hand in case of loud, disruptive conversations.
4. Lock yourself in your bedroom
Those who don’t have the luxury of getting out to a coffee shop probably have children at home. This alternative is particularly preferred by that group. In a busy, chaotic home, closing the bedroom door might be your only source of peace and quiet.
Graphic design student Shannon Treasure waits until her kids are asleep and retreats to her bedroom to get schoolwork done. The undeniable convenience of studying in your own bedroom can be a great way to ensure you make time for school.
5. Take advantage of downtime at work
Law enforcement student Jose Cisneros recommends capitalizing on downtime at work to study or do homework. With four children at home, he takes advantage of any free time he can. Whether it’s during your lunch break or an extra chunk of time on a slow day, many busy students make their time on the clock twice as profitable by squeezing in some schoolwork.
6. When there is time, make space
Students with kids sound off of this one, there’s no such thing as a study-space—it’s all they can do to find study time. When the kids fall asleep, during nap-time or in those rare intervals of peaceful play, these students strike and hit the books. If that means opening your biology textbook on the bathroom floor during bath time, so be it!
7. Go unplugged
HIT student Bethany Hager does her schoolwork in her living room, making a point to turn off all electronics. This uninterrupted time allows her to get her work done faster and more efficiently, leaving more time for fun after she’s done. Turn off the TV, log off of your Facebook and put your cell phone in the other room – it’s time to focus!
8. Make your homework portable
Having the convenience to easily transport your schoolwork can work wonders! Think of all of the random moments in a day that could be utilized for study time. Students recommend finding eBook versions of textbooks to load onto one device. You can read a few extra paragraphs in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or while waiting in the car for your kids to get done with soccer practice.
9. Make your own office
A home office of any shape adds structure and convenience to life in school. Medical billing and coding student Elisabeth Wennblom recommends setting up a cubicle in your home like she did for herself and her husband. Setting aside a designated space just for schoolwork can help you separate work and play. This designated space also offers a subtle cue to others that you are in “work mode” and shouldn’t be disturbed.
10. Set a schedule & stick to it
In these busy times it can be hard to set aside enough time to eat dinner, let alone an extra hour of studying. But many students find that reserving a particular part of the week for homework alone helps them keep sane and on top of their grades. Identify a time or day to designate to schoolwork—put it on your calendar and don’t schedule over it!
11. Make sure there’s gas in the tank
Most college students will find themselves pulling an occasional all-nighter before an important exam, but don’t make it a habit. As a rule of thumb, what is good for your health is typically also good for your mind. Optimal study conditions mean good rest and nourishment. Stay hydrated, have some protein-rich snack on hand, maybe a touch of caffeine and treat your homework like a workout.
12. Find your prime time
Plan a time to study when you know you’ll feel energized and on top of your game. Some students prefer the morning—before a day of class and work has exhausted them. Others feel their best mental energy in the evening—after the day’s responsibilities are done. There are certain hours in the day when you will be able to write a paper or memorize a chart more effectively than others. Capitalize on those hours and turn yourself into an efficient homework machine.
Find what works best for YOU
These study environment tips should give you some actionable ideas to creating the perfect plan for you. Your ideal setting is likely different than the students above, but sharing insight with peers can help spur on great ideas.
Do you know a student who could benefit from these tips? Share this article with him or her and share your best study environment tips in the comments below!
A special thanks to our student contributors:
- Nichole Bulley, Health Information Technician associate
- Shannon Treasure, Graphic Design associate
- Samantha King, Medical Assisting diploma
- Charlene Vargas, Medical Administration associate
- Bethany Hager, Health Information Technician associate
- Stephanie Slade, Health Information Technician associate
- Elisabeth Wennblom, Medical Billing and Coding diploma
- Mandi Siwek, Paralegal associate
- Zoua Vang, Healthcare Management bachelors
- Jose Cisneros, Law Enforcement associate
- Jenna Childs, Medical Administration associate
- Stephanie Slade, Health Information Technician associate