SMU’s secret study spots

Christen Limbaugh was shopping with her mom in Highland Park Village when they decided to stop for coffee. They found the center’s Starbucks and took a break to chat and relax. The SMU senior fell in love with the shop’s cozy environment and went back the next week, this time to study. That was her freshman year, and she says the coffee shop has been her secret study spot ever since.

“I love the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s so homey. Libraries are depressing.”

SMU students seem to forget that there are other places around campus to study besides Fondren Library. The school’s main library always seems to be at capacity, no matter the day or the hour. But for every student attempting to study among their noisy peers, there is another student utilizing one of SMU’s secret study spots.

These hidden sites boast everything from spacious desks to complimentary earplugs to total privacy, none of which can be found at Fondren.

When senior Robert Jackson needs to cram for an engineering exam, he visits the basement of one of campus’ less-popular libraries, Hammon Arts.

“It has really large desks with room to spread out, which is good for group projects,” said Jackson. “Plus it’s right next to the electronics checkout window.”

Jackson’s fellow engineering student, sophomore Britt Nelson prefers the intellectual atmosphere of the Scholar’s Den. This location is technically reserved for student “scholars,” like members of the New Century Scholars Program, or Hilltop Scholars, but you can tagalong with a scholar friend for a cozy, quiet study environment.

“I never study in Fondren,” said Nelson. “It’s too loud. I can never get any work done. But the Scholar’s Den is always really quiet and never too busy.”

Nelson, a resident of the new Residential Commons, also likes the Den’s prime location in the basement of Clement’s Hall. “It’s an easy stop if I’m in between classes and only have an hour break,” she said.

One more plus? The Scholar’s Den always has free coffee and comfy couches.

Mechanical engineering major Andre Bouillion claims the Innovation Gym as his favorite SMU study spot.

“There’s lots of noise going on like drills and 3-D printers, but I like that,” said the SMU junior. “It’s colorful and there’s lots of stuff going on.”

As for the library, Bouillion is not a fan.

“For me it’s psychological,” he said. “I feel like because I’m required to study there, it just doesn’t happen. If I want complete silence I’ll just hole up in my room.”

Junior journalism student Rebekah Tate finds the atmosphere at Fondren more conducive to socializing than studying. She prefers to work at the Law Library.

“I get easily distracted at libraries like Fondren because I see my friends there and get off task,” she said. “I don’t usually see many people I know in the law library so it’s easier to stay focused.”

The Law Library also offers students free earplugs to help eliminate outside distractions and keep them focused.

Journalism major Mallory Paul prefers to study in empty classrooms.

“I’ve never been a library studier,” she said. “I noticed that these classrooms are always empty, so I study here a lot.”

Unlike Fondren Library, classes offer students privacy, quiet and comfort.

“I like to feel at home and relaxed when I study,” Paul said. “A library just feels uncomfortable to me.”

Limbaugh’s favorite Starbucks may not be directly on campus, but that’s one of the features that she finds so appealing.

“It’s far enough away that I rarely bump into friends and get distracted,” she said.

A communications major, Limbaugh does appreciate some light chatter. “I like having things happenings around me. There are people having conversations but never at an obnoxious volume.”

Working at an off-campus venue also offers Limbaugh help with her time management. Unlinke Fondren, Starbucks closes at 10 p.m., so she knows she needs to finish her work by a certain time.

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