The semester is basically halfway through, and that means it’s a busy time of midterm tests, projects, and deadlines. I’d like to share a few places I like to study, and a few techniques that work well for me. If they help you out, great; but if you have something else that works better, I’d love to know it too! Let me know in the comments.
Places to study at Fontbonne & my home
- Library: Unless it’s finals week, the second floor of the library barely has anyone around and is super quiet, which is what I need to study effectively. Whether you need to spread out at a table or relax in a big chair, there’s plenty of places to comfortably get that studying done! There’s also study rooms, which I haven’t needed to use yet, but that would be a good place to go if you need a really quiet place.
- A-B First Floor Lobby: Since most of my classes are in A-B Hall, I inevitably end up spending a lot of time in the lobby of the first floor, where I’m close to the lab/classrooms. Once again, there’s several big tables to spread out or chairs with arm desks to write on. It’s a good “transition zone” when I’m, for example, on my 35-minute break between microbiology lab and lecture.
- Outside: When the weather is sunny and warm, I love how students flock outside to eat lunch, hang out with classmates and friends, and work on homework. Especially after several months of not being able to sit outside (although I stand contradicted with this winter’s weather!), it’s nice to have a little change in scenery and fresh air. Some people even study better outside!
- At home…When I’m at home, you’ll find me in my bedroom or our home office, probably sprawled on the floor in some sort of stretching position (hey, anytime I can do two or more things at once, I do!). As they say, whatever works…. 🙂
- Take breaks! If you’re like me, you can get so involved in your work that you lose track of time and before you know it, you’ve spent two or three hours on the same subject. In order to best synthesize the information you’re learning, I would recommend studying with no breaks for a max of one hour, then try to do something non-school-related (get a drink, take a short walk, call your friend) for at least 10 or 15 minutes. If you’re working on a computer, it’s even more important (for your eyes especially) to take plenty of breaks. You may even find your productivity and creativity flow a lot better after your time away.
- Separate subjects: Since I am taking both chemistry and microbiology this semester (and four other classes), it’s important that I don’t do a bunch of chem homework and immediately switch to micro. This really ties to my first tip of taking breaks — I try to structure my time so there’s a period of rest for my brain in between working on any of my classes. Otherwise, I might end up mixing information from two classes or not understanding something that really is pretty simple. Your brain works hard — reward it and treat it well!
- Eat and sleep well: What you put into your body to fuel it is super important, and “empty calories” (e.g. soda and processed foods high in fats and sugars) may give you a temporary boost, but won’t pay off in the long run. This is the exact same for sleep — you may be able to skimp on hours for a few nights (or even weeks), but by the end of the semester, you’ll pay for it. Proper sleep (preferably at least seven hours) gives your entire body much-needed rest and, more importantly, allows you to be awake, coherent, and ready for class the next day.
Good luck on all your work and midterms (especially because spring break is just a couple of weeks away!), and I’d also like to remind everyone of something that probably gets said a lot but nevertheless bears repeating — GRADES DO NOT DEFINE YOU! Obviously, put in your best effort, but don’t stress if all you could manage was a B or C. Your value as a person does not diminish because of that simple letter.