It’s that time of year again. Students are bustling around campus with their backpacks stuffed to the brim with study notes, flashcards and caffeine. They all have the common goal of studying as much as possible before summer commences. During finals week, studious Bearcats will be scattered across campus in their favorite study locations.
There are countless spots on campus that can double as study locations. The most popular include Hatfield Library, Ford Hall, classrooms and good old dorm rooms. Other areas that are not always designated study spots, but can add a sprinkle of solace and joy to tedious assignments, include the Bistro and the Mill Stream. Choosing a study space often boils down to three factors: the noise level, the amount of distractions and the type of work being completed.
As part of a class assignment, over 50 Willamette students were asked what their favorite study spot on campus is. 41 percent voted the library, 23 percent the dorm room, 20 percent Ford, 10 percent the department of their major and six percent voted for classrooms. Many students voted that the Bistro and Mill Stream were better for socializing than studying.
The students who voted for the library and dorm room were then asked if they thought one location was more social than the other. Hatfield’s first floor, often full of study groups or friends engaged in casual conversation, can be a distraction to students in need of complete silence or calming background noise during their studying session. Dorm rooms pose the same issue when it comes to finding a peaceful area to focus.
60 percent of students find the dorm room to be an area to destress and socialize, while only 40 percent utilize it as a study space. On the other hand, only 10 percent of students found the library to act as a social hub, while the other 90 percent found it to be an ideal study space.
Zoe Chittick (’21), a student employee at Hatfield Library, finds the library to be beneficial for both students who study independently and those who work well with a group. She was also pleased when the library decided to set out a puzzle for students to work on last semester during finals week.
“I think the library is the perfect place to study because there is a place for every kind of studier,” Chittick said. “If you work best with noise in the background or with people, the talking section downstairs is perfect. But if you need it a little quieter, the tables hidden in the back and by the windows are wonderful. The upstairs is peaceful and perfect for reading, and of course the Fishbowl is the place to be for night owls. My favorite place of the library to study is on the first floor by the windows because there is just enough noise for me to [be able to] concentrate, and I can watch the ducks and squirrels play around by the Mill Stream.”
Although most of the library is only open until 2 a.m. on weekdays, the Fishbowl, equipped with a printer and vending machines, allows students access to a study space at all times.
Chittick said the puzzle, along with an abundance of coloring pages and markers, may make another appearance near the library entry this semester for students who need a study break.
Dorm rooms are convenient on multiple levels. On cold nights, it can be a hassle to walk across campus with a backpack full of notes, especially for students living in Kaneko, where the library can be a five-minute walk away. For students living in singles or in a quieter residence, distractions and noise level are limited. Many students enjoy the ability to put aside the books and sleep as soon as their work is finished. Having snacks stored in their fridge and all of their study materials and chargers at their fingertips makes studying in a dorm room a luxury for students.
However, an article in The Odyssey by Jennifer Lee argues that the dorm doesn’t allow students to separate their studies from their personal life: “The worst is when you’re studying in your room, and your bed is right there (it’s even worse when you study on your bed). So cozy and inviting. Especially when your roommate has turned off the lights to go to sleep, and your lamp is casting a nice dim light.”
Other buildings on campus provide the same benefits and hazards of studying. Most are open for long periods of time, but may be too noisy or quiet, depending on the studier. It all boils down to the environment the student chooses to create for themselves.
When choosing a place to study for finals, it is important to consider the amount of distractions and noise present in the study space. The location one chooses can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful finals experience.