‘Where to’ and ‘how to’ study are questions every student faces throughout both high school and college. Some students prefer coffee-shops with soft music playing, and others prefer the quiet zones in the library. Some prefer repetitive studying, and others prefer cramming. Some prefer to be alone and undisturbed, and some prefer to have a partner, or even a group.
If you are the type who likes a study partner – whether they are an equal on the subject at hand, or someone who can help you with it – then choosing a place to study can be borderline stressful, and that’s something you do not need when studying already has you on edge. Having experienced a multitude of study buddy situations, here is my advice on where to go based on who you go with.
Study Buddy 1: The cute girl/guy who lives on your floor.
Studying alone with someone of the opposite gender does not have to be the sexually tense session that is glorified in pop culture. If you are looking for that situation, this guide is not for you. If you intend to study alone with someone of the opposite gender, who also lives on your floor, you probably do not want to end up in an awkward situation. If they have never been into your room before, then it is probably not a good idea for your study session to be there. Likewise, if they invite you their room for the first time, and you truly are just looking to learn Calculus, then that is probably not the best place either. Even if you do not think you will feel awkward, the other person might, and with all that awkward tension in the air, studying is going to be shifted to the backburner in your mind. So instead, pick a neutral zone – it will be easy for you both to get there, since you can meet on your floor and go together. A community lounge area (unless it is loud), the library, a coffee-shop, or any number of places can be a great place for the two of you to study without any awkwardness getting in your way. After you have known each other longer and better, studying in your rooms could become an awkward-free zone, but to start out, find a better location.
Study Buddy 2: The same-sex person on your floor.
If you and another member of the same gender, who both live on the same floor, or same dorm or apartments, want to study together, then studying in your rooms can be easy and convenient, especially if you are a procrastinator and need help at the last minute. But beware, it can lead to uninvited guests, since study buddies and good friends are not always the same people. Like with opposite gender floor-mates, I recommend heading to your floor’s lounge or the library, at least until you know the person is not going to attach themselves to you 24/7. Also, it never hurts to get out of the dorms or your apartment for awhile.
Study Buddy 3: The person you only know from Microbiology, whose last name you do not know.
If you do not know a person outside of class, but want or need to study with them – perhaps because one of you needs help, or you both have agreed to try to make some sense of the homework together – then you should go for one of two places: the library or the coffee-shop. The library will ensure that studying gets done. The coffee-shop will allow the two of you to get work done while also getting to know each other better. Don’t like coffee? That’s okay. Try the tea or lemonade.
Study Buddy 4: Your tutor.
As a tutor, you are always wary that the person you are tutoring is not in it to learn. Maybe they want to make out, or just want you to give them the answers, or will even do something as insulting as offer to pay you to do their work. Therefore, when you are setting up a place to meet your tutor, do not ask them to come to your dorm room. It might make them hesitant and uncomfortable. Furthermore, if you really are asking for their help because you are serious about your education, then show them that – do not show them your messy room with your underwear on the floor and pizza boxes by the trash. Tutoring sessions are best held in tutoring or academic resource centers, which most colleges have, or in the library. Many college libraries even have study rooms that can be reserved, which are ideal because they are private and quiet, and guarantee you will have a space in which to productively work with your tutor.
Recognizing that relationships are complex, and you may find a study buddy who does not fit well into these four types, here is a short list of study locations, with their advantages and disadvantages, that you may also find helpful.
The library: neutral space, quiet, easy to access.
Study room: private, quiet, easy to access; ideal for high-productivity studying, without distractions.
Floor/dorm lounge: neutral, but not the quietest; convenient.
Your room: you control volume; convenient; potentially awkward; better for people you know well.
Coffee-shop: relatively quiet, but with music; neutral; coffee or tea to keep you going.
The outdoors: when the weather is nice (beware of wind!), studying outside can feel refreshing, and less like work.
Emma Brace is a sophomore at Kansas State, where she majors in engineering. She enjoys studying with friends in her room, studying with partners at coffee-shops, and studying with groups in reserved study rooms. She also writes a blog, Adventures in Wildcatland, where she rambles about movies, events, and college life in general.