BY ANTON LUCAS
Living on campus seems like the best option if you’re not an early riser and want to eliminate having to commute to school every day. However, living in a dorm or even student housing nearby comes with distractions that make it hard to study effectively.
If studying is a priority, you may want to consider off-campus housing rather than bunking in a dorm or student-specific apartments that are essentially run like dorms.
- You can leave your study materials spread out across the floor
In a dorm, you can’t sprawl out across the whole room unless your roommate is gone and won’t be coming back for a while. In your own apartment, you can do whatever you want.
If you can afford to rent your own apartment, the cost is worth having your own space. You can study according to your own schedule, and you won’t need to switch locations when your roommate wants to hang out with friends or listen to music.
- Roommates with friends are a major distraction
In a dorm-style living situation, you’re sharing your space with your roommate and all of their friends who choose to stop by. If you’re lucky enough to have a quiet roommate who respects your study time, their friends may not be so quiet and respectful. You can try using a “do not disturb” door hanger, but not everyone will respect it. You’ll probably end up with several soft knocks followed by an apology, and although the person means well, you’re still being interrupted.
If you want to study from the comfort of your bed, it’s difficult to get complete peace and quiet. You’ll never know when the next interruption will occur. You can wear earbuds and listen to music to drown out sound, but you’ll still be distracted by the movement of other people around you. Distractions in the background of your vision may not seem like a big deal, but it will divide your attention momentarily, whether you realize it or not.
Our brains are wired to be distracted, according to scientists from Princeton University and Berkeley. When you’re studying (or focusing on anything), your brain zooms in and out of attention up to four times per second. Your brain pauses periodically to scan the environment to see if anything else might be more important. If nothing more important is found, your brain goes back to focusing on your studies. The problem is, having sound and movement in your peripheral vision makes this process take longer. Your attention might linger on someone walking into the bathroom for a couple of seconds, and these longer distractions take a toll on your concentration. According to Sober Living Austin, there are other distractions on campus such as partying and constant social gatherings. If you want your study sessions to be effective, your best bet is to study alone. If you want to study in the comfortable space of your own bedroom, you need off-campus housing.
- You can choose a more secure, quiet location
Living in a dorm, you can’t exactly secure your room the way you can secure your own apartment off-campus. In an off-campus apartment, you can intentionally seek out a top-floor unit to maximize noise reduction and get optimal security. Burglars prefer easy targets and aren’t likely to take the stairs or elevator. Plus, top floors tend to have more natural light which comes in handy for studying.
If you prefer a ground-floor unit, you’ll have different perks. For example, you’ll be able to grow a vegetable garden on your patio or even in your kitchen. You can find an apartment complex that has a community park or at least green, open spaces to enjoy. You can take a beanbag chair to the middle of the grass, plop down, and study in the middle of nature.
- You need the ability to move into a different space to clear your head
After long study sessions, it’s important to move into a different space to clear your head. In a dorm, you’ll probably need to walk a good distance to get into a quiet space to clear your head. If you’re living off-campus in your own apartment you can walk into the front room, the backyard, or sit on your front porch.
- You’re not stuck living with anyone who irritates you
Hopefully you’ve never had to deal with a roommate who irritates you, but plenty of people have. Unless there’s a major problem between you and a roommate, you won’t usually get to swap them out for someone else. The same goes for apartments converted to student housing. In either case – dorm or student housing – you’re stuck with whatever roommates you get. You can get a cheap room, fast internet, and a fully-furnished bedroom in student housing, but you’ll also get a house full of people to distract you from your studies.
Prioritize your studies to reduce stress and study better
If you’re not prone to anxiety and stress, you might be able to function in a semi-chaotic environment. However, if roommate drama and distractions get on your last nerve, living off-campus will solve that problem for good.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals