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The Best Places to Study

Arley D. Cathey Learning Center
Harper Library's Arley D. Cathey Learning Center is a popular study spot at UChicago.

2. The School Library

It might seem obvious, but the library is popular for a reason. Comfortable and surrounded by books, many students find that it’s the perfect environment to concentrate. Group study spaces in libraries are also frequently used for collaborative learning. And if you work best in complete silence, many libraries have designated quiet floors, often getting quieter as they go up.

3. Graduate Libraries

Graduate libraries are similarly quiet and comfortable, but you’re less likely to get distracted by running into a friend or classmate.

4. A Friend’s Floor

Of course, sometimes you want to be distracted by a friend or classmate! That’s okay, too! Studying doesn’t have to be a lonely activity.

5. A Cafe

If you want a lively atmosphere to keep you awake, maybe try a cafe. You’ll be in a cozy and welcoming environment and can get some food or drinks to keep your energy up as you work. You’ll likely find that lots of people have strong opinions about their favorite campus cafes!

Le Dôme Café
Le Dôme Café, Paris

6. Le Dôme Café, Paris, 1946

Time traveling back to 1946 and surrounding yourself with an impressive group of artists and intellectuals, from Pablo Picasso to Simone de Beauvoir, can be a great way to keep yourself motivated and on task.

7. A Dorm Common Room

Depending on your dorm, you might be able to find a great place to study without even leaving the building. Dorm common rooms can be great for when you don’t have much time but want to get some work done, or for if you want to study with a group of friends.

8. The Student Center

Most campuses have a student center, often with cafes, comfortable chairs, and quiet rooms. Explore your school’s student center, and you might find a new favorite study spot!

9. Outside

If the weather’s nice, studying out on the grass can keep you from feeling too cooped up. You can enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and the scenery of your campus, perfect to keep your work from feeling too monotonous.

10. Please, Not the Surface of Venus

Bad idea. The atmosphere is toxic.


Often, it can take some trial and error to find the study spot right for you.

The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library
The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library appeared in the popular 2014 film Divergent.

Arriving on UChicago’s campus in my first year, I quickly fell in with a group of Harper Library loyalists. They praised Harper for its openness, its Hogwarts-esque architecture, and its extremely comfortable chairs—so comfortable that Harper has become known as not just a location for studying, but also a location for napping.

I was convinced of Harper’s superiority at first, but I gradually began to discover other possibilities. I studied in the grass on the quad, in the fireplace-lit lounge of Burton-Judson Courts, and on the floors of my friends’ dorm rooms. But even as my study locations diversified, there was one building I didn’t enter: I remained intimidated by the mythos and vastness of the Regenstein Library.

And then one crisp day at the end of my first quarter, I finally entered the Reg, and everything changed. I was mesmerised by the smell of books and the immense scale of the book stacks. My first time wandering through those long, narrow rows of bookshelves, I lost myself in them. Literally, I couldn’t figure out how to get back to the elevator.

Over the next few months, I tried a couple spots in the Reg, studying on each floor and in the glass bubble of Mansueto Library. Now, a year later, I am firmly convinced that the best study spot is the front left cubicle in the second row on the fourth floor of the Reg. But when my arbitrarily specific study spot isn’t available, I know I have plenty of other options!

Submitted by Theo E. on Wednesday, November 14, 2018