Distractions prevent academic success


Put your phone down. It may connect you to your friends through social media, but it can disconnect you from what’s important.

Distractions, of course, are all around you. They always find a way into your life, especially when trying to study. The problem for most students can be organization.

“Our brain remembers things in a certain system. It files things away,” says Tenesha Williams of the AVID Dept. “[Taking Cornell notes] allows you to recall it much more efficiently.”

Note taking systems like Cornell notes are a good way for students to organize their ideas and stay focused. They format the content to allow your brain to sort it out conveniently. However, outside distractions like social media, cell phones, and computers pose a real problem for students when trying to complete their homework.

According to Astronomy Professor Michael Smutko of Northwestern University, it has been proven that handwritten rather than typed notes are vital to retaining information. Students who took notes with pen and paper earned the highest average grade for the quarter. However, those who typed their notes averaged four points lower than the students who took handwritten notes. This was due to reported off task behavior specifically by way of the internet.

With the negative effects of technology on student’s focus, there are beneficial apps that can help limit distraction on your laptop or smartphone. For example, the app “Forest” tracks the progress of non usage on your iPhone. Users set a timer and each time that expires, a tree grows. The goal is to build a forest and it sets a personal goal to put your phone down. Also, there is a chrome extension called “Stayfocusd” that allows users to set website blocks for a certain amount of time. This helps resist the temptation to become off task while studying by blocking distracting websites (i.e Facebook, Twitter, Netflix).

“My phone is always a big distraction for me,” says Amal Nashashibi, sophomore. “So when I’m studying I leave it in another room so I’m not tempted to use it.”

According to Dr. Larry Rosen of California State University, 80% of students switch between social media and other technology while studying somewhat often to very often.

“I always make sure to not have [my phone] on me,” says Brandon Graver, senior. “But when using a computer I tend to have two windows open. One for school and one not for school.”

Nobody is perfect, and students will always find ways to lose focus. There is no app for your brain that can shut down your urge to daydream. But if you put away nuisances that you can control, you can be successful and accomplish your goals more efficiently.