Best Study Spots Around Campus
All Wesleyan students know the main floor in Olin and the chatty Science Library (SciLi) as places to hit the books. After a few weeks however, Olin feels too crowded and unproductive, and many people find SciLi too distracting for serious studying. Where to go, then, as the workload piles on, darkness falls earlier, and the challenge of starting your work seems insurmountable?
It takes a couple of semesters to figure out where you study best, and for many people that place changes every semester. Even for those who have been here for a while, tunnel vision can make us forget the other study space options. Some decide to just work in their room, but that’s an untenable solution for many a distracted student. For those looking for that special place to help them focus, here’s a guide that will hopefully speed up the process of finding that perfect spot.
The Public Affairs Center, or PAC, offers a host of comfy work spaces if you know where to look. Home of most social science departments on campus as well as the College of Social Studies department (aka those sleep-deprived second-semester sophomores), PAC was built in the late 1920s and used to be a dormitory called Harriman Hall until it became the Public Affairs Center in the 1950s. PAC’s history and internal renovations give it a classical-looking exterior and an oddly modern interior, with a few strangely curved walls and built-in, solid wood benches on many of the lower floors. PAC offers several classrooms that are great for group study sessions and group events, but the main draws for these Argus editors are on the first and fourth floor of the building.
On the first floor, near the History, Government, and Economics Department offices, are nestled two dimly lit alcoves which are primarily used by Teaching Apprentices (TAs) and professors picking up papers from the drop boxes against the walls. The alcoves feature several low and comfy armchairs and one coffee table each, which make for great places to study for an hour (read:naps) between classes or engage in an evening of essay writing.
The fourth floor of PAC is home to several small classrooms as well as the CSS lounge, which if you can handle those crazed sophomores and a hectic back and forth of social theory terms like “American exceptionalism” and “the Weberian iron cage of capitalism,” could be the study spot for you. The denizens of the lounge get especially crazed on Thursday nights before the weekly CSS sophomore papers are due, but then again, there is free coffee.
When entering the front door of Olin, you have several choices; go up, go down, or keep walking. Most of us go straight, but that only leads you into the heart of the jungle, where it seems every other stressed student has decided to study. Instead, next time you enter the sanctuary of studying that is the library, try finding one of what we have dubbed the “Olin Corners.”
One might think that the downstairs bowels of Olin would be dark, depressing, and suffocating. Not so. The Jacobsen Periodical Reading Room in Olin is light, open, comfortable, and features multiple tables and armchairs. People respect the silence in this sacred place, and the slight but persistent chill will prevent you from falling asleep.
Or you could go up. And up. And up. Walking up Olin’s steep staircases might be unappealing to many students, but it is worth it for the hearty few willing to try. As you walk up the main stairs, continue on until you reach the third floor (where the silence can be overpowering). Instead of halting, walk to the Clark side of the stacks, where you will find a door in the side of the wall. Open said door. Walk up the secret stairs. At the top, you will find senior carrels and alcoves with skylights, tables, and lots of privacy (if secret Olin rendezvous are your thing). Be warned: people can get huffy if you breathe too loudly, so watch out for those noises you make when your Marx reading excites you.
Espwesso, the student-run café in the bottom floor of Allbritton, is home to tables, armchairs, and reasonably comfortable couches perfect for studying solo or in groups. During the day, it’s a quiet space that’s often completely vacant—perfect for the easily irritated studier. From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, the café transforms into a social hub. You’ll be spared the work-induced haze that comes from being isolated in a tiny classroom, but don’t count on being exceptionally productive in the evening.
Three and a half floors above Espwesso, at the very top of Allbritton, is a sunny room with plenty of tables on which to spread out a pile of textbooks. When the weather is nice and the door to the balcony is unlocked, step outside and remind yourself that there is a world beyond your biology textbook. Avoid this space on Tuesdays during lunch—it’s used for writing tutors—and expect company during midterms and finals time.
If you’re getting sick of working on campus, consider heading down to Main Street. The chances of getting distracted by your friends or the allure of Foss is far lower if you work in one of the great coffee shops downtown. Klekolo on Court Street and Brew Bakers, Javapalooza, and the New England Emporium, all on Main Street, are nice places to go for a change of atmosphere and great coffee. If your feeling extra adventurous, head down to the waterfront and spend a peaceful afternoon with the Connecticut River. You’ll also feel a little more like a “real adult” after venturing outside the bubble for an afternoon.
Van Vleck Observatory Library
The library in Van Vleck is a well-kept secret and makes for a study space that’s out of this world. The one-room library is wonderfully cozy and quiet with banker’s lamps, old globes, and long tables for spreading out your class materials. If you’re looking for a study break, the shelves hold sky charts, astronomy books, and student theses. As a bonus, there is also a piece of a meteorite on display.
Some people need absolute solitude to study, and few may think to head over to Usdan after dinner hours have ended (unless your mission is late-night sweet potato fries). However, when the hungry freshmen have dispersed from the Marketplace, a quiet that seems out of place for Usdan takes over. Head up the stairs to the Daniel Family Commons, where there will certainly be a few quiet sudiers. The big dining tables are great for mega-study sessions, the chairs are particularly comfortable, and the view of Foss is as calming as could be.
Save Your Own
If you want to be guaranteed a study space, especially at the end of the semester when the libraries are stuffed with tense students, reserve a classroom through Room Request in your E-Portfolio. Rooms are available for student use in most academic buildings on campus, and you can search for spaces according to capacity and seating style.