Students' environment important to academic success; dorm decor can enhance or impact concentration and creativity

September 19, 2014

For today’s college students, retailers make it easy to outfit dorm rooms. Before the academic semester begins, stores have easy-to-find and ample supplies of items students may need or want. When choosing decorations, some students work to coordinate with their roommates; some strive to make it feel like home; others want to create what they think is a fun place to live.

At University of Richmond, there is no shortage of unique or chic residence hall rooms, but what students may not know is the way they set up their room could either positively or negatively impact their academic success.

“Students spend an inordinate amount of time studying, interacting and sleeping in their dorms, so it is important to provide an environment that is conducive to these activities taking place,” says Hope Walton, director of Richmond’s academic skills center. “I like to see rooms that have pictures and posters, which suggest students feel at home in their space, and a structure where everything is easily accessible to best suit students’ academic needs – pencils and pens within reach, to do lists, calendars, books, and the like.”

Walton, who has helped students at the University of Richmond reach their academic potential for more than 20 years, believes people underestimate the importance of their environment as it relates to achievement.

“Concentration and creativity increase when you continuously work in particular spaces.” Walton says. “Many students choose to study in the library or another spot on campus most of the time, but on a cold, rainy night, your dorm room might be the best option. That’s why making sure you have the right set-up for you is important.”

However, being too comfortable can be a downside. “Sitting in a wooden chair or working at a desk rather than lounging on a comfortable couch or chair to study is a good structure for many students so they can stay alert and avoid getting drowsy,” Walton says.

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