Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of year! That year when all the students are not snug in their beds, but up with visions of formulas stuck in their heads. With final exams only a week away it is time to study. To crack down on the books. That time to ingest massive amounts of caffeine. And, in honor of students’ favorite time of the semester, I bring you a few reviews of the best (and worst) places to study on campus. YMMV.
RESIDENCE HALL ROOM (space rating = 3 out of 5)
First up: the residence hall room. My personal setup is pretty simple with a focus on my computer where most of my work is done. When I am studying I clear everything that I am not using off of my desk in order to focus on the work at hand. When studying in your own room you are more likely to procrastinate due to distractions like television, games, roommates, etc. Therefore you need to remove anything that can distract you from your studies.
If you do choose to go down this route (I advise against it), you must create an environment that will naturally allow you to get stuff done and doesn’t impede your work flow. To do this…
- Make a designated area that you can study in and only allow yourself to study there while in the room.
- Give yourself ample lighting.
- If your desk is where you eat, you are also more likely to procrastinate by compulsive eating. So, give yourself a rule to not have food around while you work.
- Whatever you do, do NOT study in bed. Just like eating at your desk, studying in bed will make your body think it’s time to relax or sleep – the absolute opposite of what you should be doing.
THOMPSON LIBRARY (space rating = 3.5 out of 5)
Thompson is, of course, the center of academia at our campus and a main resource for many students – whether it be a spot to study or a place to grab that 3rd or 4th cup of coffee. Here you can spend some down time studying between classes and do homework at your leisure. But how does it fair for finals studying?
Personally, I love Thompson as a study space. It has cozy seating, bright lights, a warm atmosphere, and just the right amount of white noise from those going about their business on the ground floor. This all comes together to form an area that focuses you on the task at hand. If you prefer a quieter place to study, there are rooms available to reserve for group study sessions (book these early). These are almost guaranteed to be filled during finals, but if you have a group of fifteen or more, there really couldn’t be a better place. When I’m here, I get a good bit of work done here while maintaining my sanity. However, the library is always full of people and you will be hard pressed to find a seat or open outlet anywhere during finals. If you think that Thompson is more your speed, go early and claim your spot.
18th AVENUE LIBRARY (space rating = 4 out of 5)
The Science and Engineering Library (technically the 18th Avenue Library, but I refuse to call it by anything else) is my favorite – maybe I’m a bit biased as an engineer. They have an open floor plan on the upper levels with nothing but tables, chairs, and (much fewer) outlets. The ground floor has an ocean of computers just in case you need to print something off or need a heavier machine than your laptop. Perfect for those breaks between classes where you want a snack and a table to do work.
Depending on the day it can get cramped; however, there will almost always be a seat. I would say that it is not as warm in the atmosphere, but gets you to focus on your work substantially the same way. Seeing everyone else there working on homework and projects creates a certain level of motivation and a coffee-house level of noise that is conducive to studying. It also is a great place to work on all-nighters, especially for north campus residents. With the Terra Byte Cafe that is open until 11 p.m. during the week, you can get your late night caffeine fix and a snack as well. The 18th Avenue Library (ahem, SEL) is my top choice for studying during finals.
THE COMPUTER LAB (space rating = 2.5 to 3.5 out of 5)
All over campus there are Digital Unions and major-specific labs which are there for your use. They vary greatly in size, location, systems, and activity. Some may be only half full during the day and have a only Macs. Others will be a hive of with PCs as far as the eye can see.
As a computer science and engineering major, most of my homework, projects, and studying is done on a computer. This means that I can tell you personally the pitfalls of working with computers:
- The desks do not have as much room as other areas (I like to spread out)
- It is always louder than it needs to be. Not so much that work can’t be done, but enough to be annoying or distracting. Definitely bring some earbuds.
- These computers are connected to the Internet. A computer screen perpetually looming in front of you, badgering you to go to Facebook or Twitter, wanting nothing more than to suck you away from productivity in just a few staccato keystrokes. But that same machine can be your savior given the right circumstances.
I give the campus computer labs a range, seeing as they have varied results.