At this point in the semester, you’ve most likely gotten into a pretty standardized routine, and each week can begin to feel a little monotonous. Try changing up your study spots to reenergize your daily routine.
It’s not hard — there are so many great locations to study on Princeton’s campus. While libraries are a good option, there are plenty of other locations as well. It’s great that there are so many places to study, but this can also make it overwhelming to decide where to go.
In this post, I’ll suggest some of the potential study locations on campus based on the type of work that you have to get done. Find the situation you best identify with, then match your situation “letter” to the suggestions farther down.
Identify what you need to do:
Situation A. The Reading
There’s a 200 page reading that you’ve been avoiding. You need to understand it to write the midterm paper that’s due in your class in the near future, but you still haven’t quite gotten to it.
Situation B. The Paper
You have a thesis and some evidence, or you have a first draft. You need to get some coffee, sit down, and get cranking.
Situation C. The Problem Set
You have to finish a problem set by tomorrow, and you need to work with your friends to finish it. (Only if your professor allows working with your friends, of course!) Alternatively, you’ve finished your problem set, but you need to check your answers with other people.
Or, you just need to finish your problem set by yourself. In which case you might identify more with the locations for situations A & B.
Situation D. The Group Project
The professor assigned you to do a group project with other people. The project is still in its early stages. You expect a lot of discussion.
Situation E. Nothing Really
An overachiever! You’ve finished all the assignments you need to turn in, and just need to do some light reading to preview the information your professor will go over in lecture tomorrow. While everyone else is scrambling to finish midterm assignments or study for tests, you can chill.
Situation F. Pull an All Nighter
It’s two a.m. and you still haven’t finished the problem set/paper/reading. You know you’re not going to finish in the next few hours. You went to the U-Store to get some late night snacks and now you need a place to settle down for the night (or morning, technically).
Find the perfect location:
For those of you who identify with situations A & B →
You probably want to go somewhere that’s really quiet and gives you ample time to reflect and think. You also probably have paper sources, so you’ll want to find a place where you can spread out at a table.
- Firestone – Firestone is both quiet and has large tables. If you’re someone that really wants privacy, there are private booths on almost all of the Firestone levels (except in the reading rooms). There are so many study spaces. I promise you’ll find somewhere to sit.
- Frist Campus Center Third Floor (in front of The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning) – This is also an extremely quiet location with large tables. The location is great (Frist is close to everywhere!) and the printers — black & white and color — are nearby too.
- East Asian Library – This is a great library that is often unexplored! There are beautiful windows and completely quiet spaces, AND it’s housed within Frist.
- Marquand Library of Art and Archeology – Another great library. However, being in the art museum, they are extremely strict about water. They won’t even allow you to bring in a water bottle.
- Chancellor Green – A beautifully picturesque study location that you probably have seen from the outside if you have been on a campus tour at Princeton. While there aren’t too many desks, if you need to do a reading and are looking for a comfy chair and an amazing aesthetic, this is the place to go.
For those of you who identify with situations C & D →
Since you’re working in a group, you probably want to be in a space where you can talk a lot.
- Frist Campus Center First Floor — The first floor always has people and it’s a campus hub. There’s a lot of long tables where you could sit down with your group. It is a popular location though — I can’t guarantee that you’ll always get a table when you need one.
- Frist Campus Center Second Floor – The second floor is less used and extremely underrated. There’s a lot of open classrooms that your group can occupy (as long as there are no previously scheduled meetings or class — make sure to check the room schedule for the day that is posted outside all of the classroom doors.)
- Lewis Science Library — There are *great* group study rooms on the third and fourth floor. There’s also a way to reserve them. Just send a request at the following link with when you want to reserve it.
- Murray-Dodge Café — Who wouldn’t want to study here? There’s ambient music, free cookies, and a constant buzz. There’s also a lot of sturdy tables for collaboration. But remember, it is a popular space — you might not be able to find a table to sit at.
- Any common rooms or empty classrooms on campus — This is probably the easiest and most readily available study space on campus. Here’s a list of classroom buildings that are open from 7:00 a.m. – midnight on weekdays and 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. on weekends.
For those of you who identify with situation E →
You really are an overachiever. Why have you continued reading so far? Honestly, you could study anywhere on campus. Go somewhere that makes you feel productive and happy!
In case you can’t think of places to go, here are a few spots:
- Benches in Prospect Garden – Who doesn’t want to study surrounded by flowers and greenery?
- The (new!) chairs behind Firestone – This is the perfect location for sun bathing. You actually get the chance to appreciate Firestone’s gothic beauty, while also getting work done – a new concept, right?
- McCosh Courtyard – A great location if you want to see the hustle and bustle of campus.
For those of you who identify with situation F →
We’ve all been there. While none of the libraries on campus are open 24 hours (which is crazy to be honest), have no fear — there are study places that are open.
- All of the “libraries” in the Residential Colleges – They’re usually not as beautiful as libraries, but they do the job. A quiet place to knock-out that last minute problem set, paper, or reading. A popular location is Julian Street Library of Wilson College.
- Many of the Residential College Dining Halls – If you really don’t like the “libraries” in the residential colleges, you can come here. They usually have some cereal, ingredients for making PB&J, and hot water/coffee out for your late night studying. For the combined dining halls, one side is usually open (Wilcox or Wu, Roma or Mathey).
- During exam weeks, Frist Campus Center – Don’t worry, Princeton has got your back. During midterms week and finals week, Frist is open 24 hours. You can check the hours for each day here.
You’ve most likely heard of or studied at many of these locations, but sometimes putting a little extra thought into your choice of study space can make a big difference!
(In case you’re wondering, here’s the list of libraries at Princeton and when they’re open. In addition, here are other classroom buildings that I haven’t had the chance to explore, but are available for study use!)
If you get tired of working in one location, library-hop! Sometimes all you need is a change in study room scenery and a brisk walk from library to library in the crisp autumn air. The workload in Princeton classes can often feel overwhelming, but remember there are plenty of spaces on campus to help you get all of your work done. I believe in you!
—Nanako Shirai, Natural Sciences Correspondent