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Higher Temperatures Mean More Distractions

Every spring, as the temperatures finally make the jump over 60 degrees, Boston College puts on a mystifying illusion: its visible student body seems to double overnight. Every time I walk around campus on a sunny and even remotely warm day, I am taken aback by the sheer number of people bopping around campus. The dining halls are packed, the quad and amphitheater are covered in sunglass-adorned students, and even class attendance seems to spike. Where it is all these people are hiding during the colder months of the year? When spring hits BC, it seems like we all come down with a serious case of spring fever.

Going to school in Boston, most likely none of us were expecting warm weather to last much longer than the first and last few weeks of the school year. We know what signed up for, so we relish the beautiful days all the more. As the second round of finals rolls around each spring semester, we are not only met with a new set of classes and schedules, but a range of temperatures drastically different from those in December. The temptation to throw on a sundress or mandals and soak up the sun is much more tantalizing than trudging over to Bapst and studying for eight straight hours. With warmer weather comes more distractions, and there is no worse time for distractions than finals week.

During first semester finals week, the library is a sanctuary of warmth where we can go to escape the frigid New England winter raging outside. Upon entering we shrug off our parkas and settle into our seats for the long haul, very seldom wishing we were spending our day outdoors. It’s weather conducive for studying. But with spring semester comes the sun right along with it. No longer are sleeping and Netflix the only things we wish we were doing instead of studying. The sun yells at us from the windows of the library, warm and welcoming. I am often struck with guilt when I spend my finals week studying in the library as the sun shines outside. By this logic, studying outside is the perfect medium...

Until I actually get outside.

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Anyone remotely like myself finds this practice of studying outdoors during a warm day to turn them into the human version of the dog in Up. My eyes are constantly darting between distractions: Those people playing Frisbee are making good life choices. Is that a dog over there?! The sun is reflecting off my textbook and right in my eyes—how nice. I’m so glad the people with the speaker have the worst taste in music. I resent everyone who is sitting in the shade right now. Do I turn my screen brightness up or down to make it easier for me to see what I am doing? I can actually feel my skin burning right now.

Suddenly everyone I know seems to be walking around in their spring best and my lack of studying becomes the thing making me guilty. Warm weather brings distractions and daydreams that deter productivity.

This phenomena was observed in a 2012 study carried out by Harvard Business School. Results showed that sunny days breed lower productivity than rainy days, for example. Without the visions of outdoor activities for a warm day dancing around in their heads, people are more likely to hunker down and do their work.

Students joke that harsher climates will be better for their work ethic. I remember laughing about how attending Syracuse would be the best way for me to succeed in college, seeing as how the town gets more snow per year than any other city in the country. More snow meant I would be forced to stay in to study. Is this idea that outlandish? Many of what are considered to be the best colleges in the country are located in colder regions. Perhaps the high quantity of days with less desirable weather aids their rigorous courses, big name professors and well-developed programs.

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While this could have some validity, I believe it is people who attend these fine universities that make the difference. They are the individuals who would stay in and study even if they went to school right down the street from the beach. Boston College is no exception, even with the temptations that comes with our second exam week we get the job done. This speaks more for will and determination than it does for the weather brewing outside.

Nice days may tend to lower productivity, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome.

Summer is right around the corner. If nothing else can motivate us to stay inside for finals week, it is the allure of a break just over three months waiting for us when we finish that last exam or turn in that final paper. Distractions run rampant around us during this beautiful time of year, but giving in to our urges to trek down to Newbury or play that game with the trampoline and ball that every boy on campus seems to own will only be temporarily satisfying. Sacrificing a few sunny days to study will be worth it when we are able to soak up the sun worry-free over the summer.  

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Frankie Magner