With laptops and tablets, it’s possible to see students studying without paper. Even more normal, however, is to see students studying with headphones.
Audio is a huge part of life today. Look up, chances are there are several people around wearing some form of headphones.
Most students listen to music while studying. Some say it helps them stay focused on the task at hand. But is listening to music really a good way to stay focused?
Brett Kuwada is a psychology instructor here at EvCC. He says the best thing to improve focus isn’t music, but self-care. Taking care to eat, drink and sleep regularly is important. Drinking too much caffeine can also hurt focus. For some students, said Kuwada, this could also mean getting outside help from EvCC’s Counseling Center. “Taking care of yourself is very, very important,” Kuwada said.
If music isn’t the best way to stay focused, should we all abandon our headphones? Of course not. “Music can definitely be a tool in your self-care arsenal,” said Kuwada.
However, research on music and its relation to studying varies greatly. Kuwada says students should experiment. He encourages students to study with and without music.
Many EvCC students said they can’t listen to music with lyrics while studying. “I usually tend to avoid listening to music with words because I often find myself singing along and losing my focus,” said Jessica Aceves, a graphic design student.
Environment can also impact the ability to focus. Kuwada said that one study suggests that background noise tends to be distracting. That’s why some students might wear headphones but not play anything, to block out some of the noise.
However, that’s not the rule. Kuwada prefers busy environments, like Starbucks, because the noise forces him to focus on his work. Students should also experiment with where they study. At EvCC, the seating around Parks Café tends to be busy, while the second and third floors of Gray Wolf Hall tend to be quiet.
Finally, Kuwada emphasizes finding balance in life. Students should take care of themselves physically and emotionally; it will help them stay on track when life doesn’t go according to plan. “If music is one of those things that help you maintain balance, don’t forget about that.” Nelson Vasquez, an EvCC student, explained, “Music helps me focus on what I’m working on without being bothered by other things or being distracted by other people.”
So go. Study, sleep and listen to music — not necessarily in that order.