Seeking superior study spaces

IMG_4413Like most college campuses, Hendrix is blessed with numerous study spaces, but not all study spaces are created equal. With so many choices, the quest for the best possible spot may seem overwhelming, but this is a quest that must be completed. Settling for a subpar space can result in hours and hours of time wasted working unhappily somewhere that simply could have been better. With the ridiculous hours each student spends studying and the looming catastrophe that is Finals Week, finding the perfect study spots is essential.

Dorm Rooms—This one is a classic. Every dorm room comes equipped with a handy-dandy desk, and if that works for you, all the power to you. For many students, however, the temptation of a bed, or TV, or literally any other activity is too tempting to resist.

  • Pros: The convenience and quiet of the dorm room is undeniable.
  • Cons: Distraction is inevitable, and the appeal of sleep is often impossible to ignore. In addition, studies show that studying in the same area where you sleep leads to ineffective studying and restless sleep.
  • Perfect for: any assignment that needs less than thirty minutes of attention.

Bailey Library—Another classic. The library has a variety of amenities that make it ideal for many aspects of studying. Reliable printers and plenty of space make the library an appealing one stop shop for most academic needs, plus the popularity of the library means that you can often classmates somewhere among the stacks. In addition, you’ve got to love the classic image of long hours studying surrounded by shelves upon shelves of canon literature.

  • Pros: Easy access to resources such as solutions manuals, printers, and plenty of space for group studying can make the library ideal for many.
  • Cons: The first floor of the library is distinctly talkative at certain hours, and after weeks upon weeks of intense library studying, the monotony can be maddening.
  • Perfect for: setting up shop and knocking out several hours of studying, especially if you can snag a couple of friends to study with you.

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The Burrow—To actually study in the Burrow is to exercise a degree of self-control many students simply do not have. For some, the constant sound and distraction can stave off the cabin fever of the library or dorm rooms. For others however, the constant presence of at least one person having a great time can make focusing impossible.

  • Pros: Comfortable couches, plenty of electrical plugs, and quick access to the Caf and the game room can make the Burrow ideal for mundane sort of studying.
  • Cons: Once again, distraction is inevitable. People roll in and out of the SLTC doors constantly from 8:00 a.m. through midnight. The Caf, game room and many TVs that are an appeal for some can quickly become exponentially more interesting than a reading assignment or problem set.
  • Perfect for: study sessions squeezed in between classes, run-of-the-mill studying after dinner, and of course pretending to study while aggressively procrastinating.

Mills—Once classes have wound down and professors have mostly meandered their way to wherever they go when they aren’t here, Mills becomes an ideal location for study sessions and review. Open late, Mills features empty classrooms with enormous blackboards and more than enough seating. The long dark hallway extending into the late night abyss is admittedly off-putting though.

  • Pros: Mills is generally quieter study spaces, and the abundance of rooms can make it easy to find privacy in rooms that don’t scream “claustrophobia.”
  • Cons: The seating in many Mills classrooms can often be dissatisfactory. The combination desk/chair contraptions that fill our high school flashbacks leave something to be desired.
  • Perfect for: group test review where the abundance of seating and private classroom spaces let you get as many people participating as you want. The blackboards and provided chalk provide plenty of room for each and every practice problem and review topic

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Murphy House—Aptly named Murphy House, one of the nicest things about studying in Murphy is that it has all of the quiet comfort of studying in a living room instead of a purely academic space. The Murphy kitchen also includes complimentary tea, which makes up for Murphy’s occasionally inconvenient hours.

 

  • Pros: The quiet intimacy of studying in Murphy can be a welcome comfort compared to the primarily institutional feeling study spaces across campus. The tea and squishy couches only serve to sweeten the deal.
  • Cons: Murphy house is frequently occupied by literature and language events such as language hours or writing workshops. This can severely limit the number of students who can fit into the much smaller fireplace room. In addition, whether you are done or not, Murphy closes at 9 p.m. every day.
  • Perfect for: when you need to get things done, but it isn’t an emergency and you could also go for a cup of tea. A Murphy study space during the end hours of finals week is enviable indeed.

Academic Buildings—These spaces vary from building to building, but academic buildings such as DW and MC include study spaces blocked out that are often open to major students at all hours. Barring when practicals are looming the next day, the labs in DW are frequently empty of people and full of look-but-maybe-don’t-touch sort of distractions. The computer lab on the third floor of MC is often filled with students in need of the only Mathematica-enabled computers on campus, while the small library down the hall can be convenient for just popping in.

  • Pros: Odds are, if you are using academic buildings to study, you are studying among people studying the same subjects. These spaces often have the necessary subject-specific oddities that the library can lack, such as anatomy skeletons or Mathematica tabletop guides.
  • Cons: There is something inherently creepy about being in a large academic building alone at night. Labs in particular
  • Perfect for: subject-specific project work. In the days leading up to lab practicals or important math projects, students can almost always find their classmates working on the same projects in these spaces.

The Carrels—Does anyone on campus truly enjoy the carrels? No, of course not. The carrels are not meant to be enjoyed; they are meant for emergencies. These study cubicles have been known to cause madness because the off-white walls and faded forest green desktops make slipping into a time warp of studying not only possible, but likely. Many a student has entered a carrel only to emerge nine hours later and find they have caught up on a semester’s worth of studying.

  • Pros: The carrels are a quiet study space with little distractions available to allow procrastination. The tired eyes and flat, soulless gazes of other students discourage even the most mundane of water fountain chatter. The plugs available in each carrel also alleviate any battery concerns present in other parts of the library. The white boards in certain carrels are also incredibly handy.
  • Cons: The spotty wifi and complete void of cellular signal can be frustrating at best. In addition, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to find a carrel at some hours of night. Snagging a finals week carrel is an even more daunting task.
  • Perfect for: emergencies. No other space on campus can force the soul-crushing levels of focus required for those nine page paper that’s due tomorrow sort of emergencies. This space is also open and often occupied by at least one other desperate soul 24/7. If it gets that far, the 4 a.m. cleaning staff is also really nice.

Bonus: Weather Permitting, Welcome Center Porch Swings and the Pecan Grove—These two spaces are outdoors, and therefore subject to the mercurial temperament of Arkansas weather. When the weather is nice, a midday break in the Pecan Grove can be a great way to recover from the perpetual fluorescence of classrooms. The new Welcome Center also features two porch swings tucked away from the majority of campus perfect for a few leisurely hours with a good book. As we finally roll into winter, these spaces can be a good thing to remember for the occasional sunny day or the return of springtime, if we survive our studies through the end of semester that is.

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