After a week of getting acclimated to campus life, classes will start before you know it. This means that studying will soon take up a significant though hopefully reasonable amount of your time. Here is your guide to St. Olaf’s many study spaces, one or more of which will inevitably match your individual needs.
The Libraries: Perhaps the most dependable option, the Rolvaag “roll-vahg” Memorial Library-located between Buntrock Commons and the English Department-has a variety of spaces that cater to the most social or private of studyers.
The main floor third floor has an area to the left as you walk in with clumps of tables and chairs perfect for group study sessions. To the right is the fairly quiet Reference Room, whose high ceilings and windows draw comparisons to the Hogwarts Great Hall.
The fourth floor of the library also caters to social studying with its clumps of desks and study rooms, so if you’re looking for a quieter environment, this floor may not be for you. If you venture either further up or further down from these floors, the spaces grow more and more quiet though there is less natural light the further down you go.
Regents Hall’s Hustad Science Library and Christiansen Hall of Music’s Halverson Music Library also offer nice study spots, but are not as spacious as Rolvaag. Be warned that as semesters draw to a close and the intensity of studying dials up to a ten, space in Rolvaag is scarce. Sweatpants-clad, stress-eating Oles cram into every available desk, so you may need to look elsewhere.
Tomson Hall: Located across the quad from Buntrock, Tomson is home to the Foreign Language Department as well as the administrative offices. The main floor the floor below ground level has a big open space with tables and couches for studying. This area is not the best for group studying because the tables are so small, so usually there are either individuals or two-person groups quietly studying here. It’s also important to note that this is administrative central – if you lack a filter, you may not want to study where PDA and the Deans come and go.
On the third floor of Tomson, you will find the West Lantern, a room overlooking the lawn in front of Mellby and Larson Halls, with many chairs great for quiet studying. There is a similar space, the East Lantern, on the other end of Tomson. It boasts a view of the quad, Buntrock Commons and Holland Hall.
These spaces are best for quiet studying, though when classes let out, they can be noisy for a few minutes. And if you get distracted people-watching, these windowed study spaces may not be best for serious studying – the never-ending parade of people across the heart of campus may prove to be too stimulating.
The Cage: The second floor of Buntrock Commons is always full of activity-here, you can find the campus mailboxes, Fireside lounge see below and the Cage, which is a small café under Stav Hall where you can buy coffee, snacks or any meal you don’t want from the cafeteria.
Apart from serving food, the Cage expanded last year to include more room for studying. This is mainly intended for social studying because, frankly, the space is often really loud. With all of the noise and distractions, individual studying here is difficult. However, people who struggle studying in silence may love the chaos. Also, across from the Cage is a row of window seats where one may be a little more secluded while still remaining among the activity.
Fireside: This lounge is right across from the campus mailboxes and its many comfortable chairs, couches and working fireplace attract Oles who want to hang out or nap between classes. While mainly a social space, Fireside is a comfortable spot to read a book for class or work on a paper. However, it may be hard to concentrate there during its busiest hours-during lunch and after classes are over for the day. Admittedly, this is more the place where people meet before they go somewhere else to study!
Regents Hall: With its giant windows and various corner nooks, the science building is an appealing place to study. Regents facilitates both group and individual study and, like Tomson, its empty classrooms are great for group study sessions before a test or presentation. Of all the study spots on campus, Regents probably brings in the most natural light and is less claustrophobic than the library or the Cage.
The fourth-floor study space overlooking downtown Northfield provides a beautiful view without being distracting.
Dorm Lounges: As first-years, a great way to get to know your peers is by studying in your dorm lounge. This can be an easy way to bond while still being somewhat productive. Apart from the sheer convenience of staying in your dorm to study, dorm lounges tend to have a more relaxed and easygoing atmosphere than most study spots, which makes for less stressful studying.
On the down side, the social atmosphere of dorm lounges may be distracting and any actual hope for productivity may fall by the wayside. This depends on one’s tolerance for noise versus silence during study time. Your residence hall may also begin to feel suffocating if you rely on it for studying, socializing and sleeping.
If not in September, you might start to feel it when the snowfall renders you extra lazy.
Photo courtesy of David Hastings 14