Design Tips for Creating a Productive Study Space for College Students

April 27, 2021

Your study space should include comfortable chairs that offer good back support.

Anyone that has ever had to study for long stretches understands the importance of working in the right study environment. The right setting can help keep you focused, boost your productivity, and minimize fatigue. However, few people realize the many design considerations that go into creating the right study space.

Let’s look at some design tips for creating a productive study space for college students. 

1. Easy Access

Before you can start designing the ideal study space for college students, it is important to choose a location that is easy to access. For this, you can start by picking a room or a building that is on the college campus or close to student residences. Your goal should be to minimize walking time from the college buildings and residences to your study room.

This room should also be in a building that can be accessed by students, either by swiping their student card or through other controlled entry means. This will ensure only students use this space and that outsiders won’t occupy precious study space.

2. Sound Dampening

The ideal study space should also be quiet. This “quietness” will be determined by the people who occupy this space as well as the staff who enforce silence rules. However, the study space’s design will also influence how much external sound enters the room as well as how easily sound travels through its interior.

You can reduce the amount of external noise that enters the study space by setting up thick walls and a heavy door with a tight seal. If your study space has thin walls, you can still reduce external noise by placing furniture such as armchairs and couches against them.

To reduce internal noise in the room, you should opt for carpeting or rugs. These materials absorb sounds and prevent them from travelling far across the room. Decking out the study space with a carpet or rug is a great idea, especially if the existing room has hardwood or concrete flooring, two materials that are known to be ineffective at absorbing sounds.

3. Good Lighting

Every study space needs good lighting to keep students alert. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go overboard with artificial lighting. If possible, you should choose a study space location that offers plenty of natural lighting. This could be a room with plenty of large windows with easy-to-adjust curtains or blinds.

For indoor lighting, you can go with recessed ceiling lights, wall mounted lights, or pendant lights. However, it is important to choose light bulbs that emit “blue light”. This doesn’t necessarily mean the bulb emits primarily “blue” colors, but that it is rich in wavelengths that correspond to blue-light frequencies. 

Studies have found that such lighting boosts alertness, which can aid students in their studying activities. Some common bulbs that emit a large amount of blue light include compact fluorescent bulbs (CFBs) and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs)

4. Access to Electrical Outlets

A significant percentage of college students study using electronic devices such as laptops and tablet computers. They may use these devices to read electronic copies of their textbooks or to take down notes. This means they will need easy access to electrical outlets to charge their devices.

Every study space should include an ample amount of electrical outlets. These outlets should be set up at 12 foot intervals in the study space. These outlets can be embedded in the walls or in the ground. If you opt to create rows of individual study desks, each of these desks should also include power outlets. This setup will ensure each student can charge their devices as needed and without getting in the way of others.

5. The Right Seating

Seating is an especially important component in any study space. Your choice of seating will determine the study space’s layout as well as the type of study activities that can be conducted there. You can choose to create a study space with just one type of seating or multiple types.

For example, you can opt for a space with rows of individual desks. Each of these desks should include a comfortable chair that offers adjustment options such as rotation and height adjustment. Alternatively, you can create a mix of individual desks and group desks with appropriate chairs for each type.

Many study spaces also include separate areas with armchairs and couches. These are useful for group studying or for people that wish to sit in the room but do not require tables or desks.

6. Ample Sitting Desks

Your choice of study desks can also affect productivity in the study space. As mentioned earlier, many study spaces utilize individual study desk booths that allow students to study on their own. These booths often contain a dedicated power outlet along with a small studying light. Such booths are ideal for students that intend to spend many hours studying on their own.

You can also choose tables or group desks to add to your study space. These could be square shaped or circular desks that allow each seated individual to be near one another. Such desks should also be fitted with electrical outlets to make the group studying process more manageable for long sessions.

7. Adding Standing Desks

Anyone that has ever sat down to study at a desk will be familiar with the neck and back pain that sets in after a while. You may start to wonder why sitting is slowly killing you, as this neck and back pain tends to be both intense and persistent.

The truth is that sitting isn’t the optimal position to be studying in. Many people sit with poor posture, and this can lead to neck and back strain that develops into pain after a while. One way to avoid such problems is with the help of a standing desk.

Standing desks are a special type of desk that allows users to work while standing. This helps prevent or reduce many of the neck and back problems associated with seated desks. 

You should also consider investing in standing desks for students with ADHD. Such students may find it difficult to work while seated due to fidgeting tendencies. Working while standing allows students with ADHD to move around and adjust their position comfortably while working. This helps them focus on their studying task and may improve productivity according to standing vs sitting productivity studies.

So what type of standing desk should you choose for your study space? Standing desks typically include an adjustable height which can be controlled either manually or through a motor. For your study space, it is best to go with a motorized electric standing desk, as they can be adjusted easily and without having to physically lift or lower the desk surface. This allows users to set the desk at elbow height level easily, which is ideal for studying or using a computer.

8. Whiteboards

Any college study space can also benefit from the addition of whiteboards. These should be large whiteboards that can comfortably fit onto your study space walls. It may also help to position these whiteboards close to group study desks to make group studying easier.

9. Plants

Any college study space should offer good practical use. However, it should also feel like a comfortable and welcoming environment. You can deck out your study space with plenty of comfortable seating options, but you should also consider adding some plants.

Plants add a bit of color and energy to urban spaces, and they also help produce fresh air which may help prevent your study space from feeling stuffy. When investing in plants for your study space, you should go with low-maintenance varieties that do not require a large pot.

Some great plant varieties for your study space include:

  • Peace lilies

  • Money plants

  • English ivy

  • Spider plants

10. Water Coolers

The final addition in your study space should be water coolers. These should be located inside the study space itself and located centrally for easy access. Positioning a water cooler in your study space reduces the need for students to leave and get water from outside. This arrangement helps them maintain their spot in the study space and to keep an eye on their belongings.

As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do when designing a productive study space for college students. Many of the items we have discussed thus far are a staple in most study spaces. However, you might not need to include every single one in your study space.

A good strategy is to start off your study space with the bare minimum, such as desks, chairs, and lighting. You can then start adding in other items if the need for them arises. This route will help keep the study space uncluttered and remove any excess items that may not be needed. 


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