The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

When Student Work Space Isn’t a Guarantee

April 25, 2018

To some of of us, a $4.50 coffee with our math homework is a guarantee. So is a quiet place to work, with no loud yelling or unavoidable distractions. But for some, that $4.50 or that quiet air is an unaffordable luxury.

“I would say there’s a difference between somebody’s work ethic and somebody’s circumstances,” AVID adviser and English teacher Keren Dawson-Bowman said. “I have many students who have fantastic work ethics but who have such enormous responsibilities at home and challenging situations or have to work after school and those sorts of things.”

For those who can, the solution to distractions is moving somewhere busy — perhaps where there is background noise of soft music and coffee grinding. Yet, whether for financial or logistical reasons, the ability for some students to find a workspace that works for them is impossible.

I do study at my house because I’m not really allowed to go out,” sophomore Jacky Ramirez said. “I try to ask everyone to be quiet and be mindful that I need the quiet or I just blast my earphones and tune that out to concentrate.”

I don’t really have a space at my home where I do homework,” a Los Altos student who requested anonymity for privacy said. “It’s difficult. There’s always things going on cause I live with my brother and sister-in-law, and they have a kid, so she’s running around, doing whatever she’s doing. I share a room with my mom, so I don’t have that personal space, where everyone’s quiet either.”

Even those basics many take for granted are not guaranteed to everyone, making it even more difficult to find a workspace.

“It used to be really hard for me because I didn’t have a desk or anything and everywhere else was too loud,” sophomore Jacky Ramirez said. “But once I got a desk I finally had my own spot to just work.

The flexibility to go to new places to study is not feasible for some students. Whether because they may not have a license, or that they have no time left in their day to travel somewhere effective for them, the luxury of working in coffee shops and even the public library is just that: a luxury.

I do have a long commute to school and back, so that definitely takes a toll, cause we have to wait until traffic is over,” a Los Altos student said. “When you get home, it’s seven already, and I have to do all my homework, and then, I’m just so tired.”

All Los Altos students have to learn how to foster the best place for them to succeed academically, and that learning process is trial & error. Testing new coffee shops or new couches in their homes. For others though, it’s finding ways to adapt to whatever surroundings are guaranteed — no matter how loud and how caffeine-free.

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