The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Students create study spaces to help stay motivated at Zoom University


Sophomore SamLevi Sizemore completes his German homework in his Chapel Hill apartment on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020. As a studio art and English double major, Sizemore has filled his workspace with posters, plants and flags to make his apartment feel like home.

Cute planters, hot pink desk drawers, interesting art and pictures of friends and family are only a few things that make sophomore SamLevi Sizemore’s space his own.

Since the University moved all undergraduate classes online, students like Sizemore have had to find creative ways to make their study spaces comfortable and useful for the long workday.

Sizemore said he and his family made the decision that he would not stay home for the semester before classes began, so he moved into an apartment off campus. 

“I was actually set to be in a dorm until mid-July,” Sizemore said, “But when (the University) was like, ‘Hey we might not issue refunds,’ my family freaked out and said they didn’t want me living on campus.”

First-year Elias Horowitz, who stayed on campus until everyone had to leave, said their biggest obstacle has been staying focused on work and being motivated when the time comes to do it. 

Horowitz said at home, they are able to make their space more personalized. 

“The online classes aren’t as bad for me since they were all online at school anyway,” Horowitz said. “The biggest difference is now I’ve set up under my bed surrounded by plants, dice and pillows.”

Everyone’s secret for making their workspace their own is different. For Horowitz, it is the color green, and for Sizemore, it's the pictures he has with his friends. 

For first-year Savannah Pless, the secret is her desk and chair.

“The first thing I did was get a new desk,” Pless said. “I had one that I used for AP tests last year, but it’s really helped me stay organized, having that desk option as well as the office chair I got, because it feels like I am in a work environment.”

The students said having space to concentrate on work rather than play is a necessity for a study space. 

Pless said making a space she could control was helpful to her.

“Making my own space has been really helpful in keeping me motivated,” Pless said. “If I hadn’t made an area for myself to work, it would have been harder for me to want to continue trying to get ahead on classwork.”

Sophomore Abby Martin said to get through the semester, she has found cheat codes to trick herself into staying motivated. She puts on her banker's lamp and plays '50's music so she doesn't have to use her brain to listen to it. 

“I'll get like a nice pen and just write," Martin said. "Plus any hot drink next to you is also essential. I have to have all five senses just doing something to convince myself to be productive and write something down.”

Long workdays plague each student, and Sizemore said finding the right focal points, as well as the right balance of comfort and efficiency in a space, is what ends up making the difference.

“I get out of bed, I cook and then I come sit at my desk for the rest of the day,” Sizemore said. “Having a space where I can feel comfortable and see my friends smiling at me from my desk is a nice reminder that even though this is a very weird time, I’m not alone and that there are still good things to witness.”


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.