As a college student and an aspiring actuary, I constantly have my face buried in a math book or working problems. I can always be found in the math lab, library, or sitting under a tree outside in between my classes finishing up homework. There are various places to study on campus, each with their own pros and cons. Many students work in the library with a group of people, in a coffee shop sipping on a latte, or even on their comfy bed trying not to fall asleep. However, my favorite place to study is not located in the typical college student environment or even on the college campus.
I have an extremely shy personality where simply being around people for an extended amount of time makes me more tired than a full day’s work. This is evident in my study spot choice. I am most productive alone in my room, surrounded by my four large whiteboards, listening to my favorite playlist through noise cancelling headphones, and wearing a comfortable hoodie to stay warm. Last Christmas, I asked for a giant whiteboard just so I could practice problems over and over without killing thousands of trees. When your math problems become longer than the length of the paper, these whiteboards really come in handy. I also have a favorite type of music to listen to while I study depending on the work I am doing. Most of the time, I have to listen to classical music so I don’t break out singing my favorite rock song. If I am reading a textbook to try to understand a new concept, I have to listen to music without words. If I am practicing math problems that I’ve already worked before, I can listen to any genre I feel like. I find it easy to block out the lyrics and focus on the beat of the music, almost helping me glide through the problem I’m attempting to solve. All of these qualities paired with a comfortable outfit make for a productive study session every night. This exact study environment brought me through all my years of grade school, six finals weeks in college, and will bring me through my actuarial exams.
As with any study session, you need to take breaks every so often to keep your sanity. When I become overwhelmed with information, I can always step outside and take in the gorgeous scene of the country. Unlike a college campus, I am not surrounded by buildings, construction, or people walking everywhere. I live about twenty five miles away from my college in a small rural town surrounded by fields, cows, and horses. This has always been a relaxing scene for me with no noisy neighbors or construction. I love to sit outside under a tree and let my mind wander for a few minutes before going back in to continue studying. On campus, it’s hard to do this comfortably with all the people walking by staring at you.
Most college students would say being in the library persuades them to stay on task and study since “everyone else is doing it.” The library gives students positive peer pressure to work if others around them are being just as studious. This helps them stay away from browsing the Internet, falling asleep, or becoming distracted by the freedom of your own room. In my case, I become more stressed out when having to study in a crowded library. There will always be a group talking loudly about everything except schoolwork, one person chewing obnoxiously, or a friend who won’t stop talking to me. When I take people away from the scene, it’s amazing how much more I can accomplish in a short amount of time.