Your brain is elastic. If you enrich your environment, you improve your ability to learn. If you try to learn in a less than ideal environment, the brain’s capacity to learn diminishes.
Researchers have identified five factors, in particular, that make the difference. If you pay attention to these, you will increase your ability to learn, have a better academic experience, earn higher grades, and set yourself up for a happier, more fulfilled life in the future.
Of course, you can have too much of a good thing, including environmental enrichment. Overstimulation will lead to exhaustion. Find time for solitude, introspection, and, most importantly, sleep, to balance the enhancements you make to your environment.
This post is based on research done in part by Marian Cleeves Diamond, Enriching Heredity: The Impact of the Environment on the Anatomy of the Brain, Free Press, 1988. See the trailer for the film about her, My Love Affair With the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond.
For many years, as a dean at three Ivy League colleges and now as an AVP at a university with an extraordinary mission, I have had a front row seat to the obstacles to success that college students and their parents confront every year. Even at so-called elite, highly selective colleges such as Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia, where I spent some of my career, students struggle on a daily basis to remain healthy, happy, grounded, and to stay in school. I am dedicated to helping them.