Although I live off campus, I spend most (if not all) of my waking hours of the day on campus, so I’ve had to figure out ways to get things done in between classes and meetings. Since my study habits are too sporadic, I can’t rely on making a reservation for a study room in Leavey or hoping that I’ll find an empty room in Taper Hall. Therefore, I’ve had the need to find places that help me be successful depending on time, place and need. Here are my discoveries:
Mudd Library of Philosophy – The nicest (and probably least used) of all the libraries at USC. A place of silence, this is where I prepare to take on the biggest of challenges – Final Exams. The reason I only use it during dead week is because of the unfortunately short hours it’s open. I love coming here with friends – not to talk to them, but so they may keep me in line if I drift off. (Also check out the East Asian Library in Doheney for a similar study space.)
Asa V. Call Law Library – Since the Gould School of Law is primarily for graduate students, the Law Library is basically empty in the weekends. If you want to find a room for yourself on a Sunday, chances are this will be the best place for you to do it.
Ground Zero – I thought this was one of the coolest places on campus because of all the events it hosts, but it’s also one of the coolest places to study with friends if you’re feeling like chatting as you study. It’s usually open until midnight, and you can always get a milkshake if you want to reward yourself as you work.
Trojan Family Room – If you find yourself near the middle of all the hustle and bustle that surrounds campus center, you can cross through the loud and open cafeteria area and enter the quiet and domed Trojan Family Room. This oasis is perfect for a fast read or a quick write when you find yourself in the hub and need to get things done. Ex: Writing this blog.
EVK Courtyard – Study while you eat!
Cinematic Arts Café – It’s very easy to tell that the School of Cinematic Arts has the nicest building on campus. However, this jewel isn’t only for Cinematic Arts students! There’s a small café inside the courtyard that I’ve found isn’t crowded with cinema students because they’re too busy doing they’re cinema stuff. I like to come here briefly to check my email and read the news.
Center for Engineering Diversity – Offers free printing in the convenient location of Ronald Tutor Hall, the center for engineering students. I use it mainly when I need to print something on campus, but its a great study lounge that is open 24 hours. Although you need a code to access the center, everybody can apply and take advantage of this space!
Student Union, 2nd Floor – If you for some reason need to watch a video – and forgot your headphones at home – there is a lounge at the Student Union after you take the first flight of stairs in which you will not disturb anybody if you have your volume on. (If you go to the 3rd floor, you will find three Cultural Assemblies, each of which are open to everyone and have studying, printing and kitchen services.)
McCarthy Quad – There are two great spots around the quad: one is a group of four tables along the Von Kleinsmid Center, and the other is the mound opposite to VKC. The former is a great place to get lost from everybody – I hadn’t even noticed it existed after a year even though I walked by it every day. The latter is great if you want to read and maybe say hi to people you know as they walk by.
Alumni Park – Everybody will agree that this is a great place to be on Saturday mornings. While the reason for most will be because of tailgates before home games, I have found that sitting in the park early on Saturday mornings is very peaceful – you’ll probably be the only one there. While I love campus when it’s busy, its also really nice to see it when its empty.
Queen’s Courtyard – This is the place where you’ll feel closest to nature on campus. In this nice area surrounded by the Thornton School of Music’s buildings, the person-to-tree ratio will rarely be more than one. I saw too many people looking like they were having the most relaxing studying time ever (like the one on the picture) before I realized I needed to get in on it. I use it especially on Saturday afternoons when I want to study alone because there is less movement on campus. You can also have fun looking at squirrels.
University Religious Center – Everybody who comes here goes to one of the rooms in the complex, so there are a few really nice tables and chairs out in the open that are usually empty where you can work that is very close to campus and yet feels very private. If the one in the first floor is taken, look for the one in the second floor. Since its out in the open, you can use this place for the whole night if you need to (and are not afraid of the dark).
Lastly, if you’re having an existential crisis or just want to have some alone time to think or put your fast-paced life on a brief pause, go to Deadeaux Baseball Field or the top floor of one of the parking structures to lie down and stare into the night. If you can’t wait until it gets dark to catch a break, go to the RTH balcony on the 4th floor to rise above the chaotic surface and get a vantage point that looks over campus and the downtown skyline, or by descending into the basement of the Roski Library to distract yourself with old and interesting books and photographs.
These are the study havens I have found in what might sometimes seem like a campus desert of options for solitude and quiet. While I’m sure there’s many more, it’s very important to realize that your desk should be the place that contributes most to your success, and all these other options are just complements and alternatives. Furthermore, in my experience, it is the people who you study with, not the places where you study at, that contribute most to your academic success.
Stay tuned to get my take on study groups! I’m actually with mine as I post this blog…Meet Pablo