U.Va. Study Spots Abound On and Off Grounds

September 22, 2011

Sept. 22, 2011 — With the fall semester under way and coursework mounting, here are a few tried-and-true study spaces at the University of Virginia to check out in the coming weeks and months.

For those who enjoy being outdoors, the University Cemetery and Columbarium at the corner of McCormick and Alderman roads, next to the McCormick Road residence halls and across from Observatory Hill Dining Hall, is a peaceful place to study and read, said Joseph Glass, a fourth-year psychology and Spanish double major in the College of Arts & Sciences.

He also enjoys the hammocks at Hereford Residential College. "It's a little less quiet, but it is a perfect spot for when there is beautiful weather. No one will disturb you," he said.

Other favorite outdoor study spots students cite include the Lawn, the McIntire Amphitheatre, the pavilion gardens and the steps of Old Cabell Hall.

Of course, weather hinders outdoor study at times. Luckily, indoor spaces can be equally appealing.

Most students first visit libraries to study because of the space and the access to resources and technology that they provide. Fourth-year College student Christine Meng, an English and music double major, said, "There's just something about everyone stressing out in the same place that makes it easier to focus. You feel guilty for slacking when everyone around you has been hitting the books since 9 a.m. And you're guaranteed to run into a friend if you want a study break."

Clemons Library is conducive to a variety of study habits; its floors are arranged according to noise level, the fourth floor being the loudest and most suitable for group projects or study sessions. The booths there offer a "nice view" and "energetic atmosphere," Meng said.

As the floor levels descend, so does the noise. Clemons' bottom level comes equipped with cubicles that provide personalized study spaces. With the absolute silence on this floor, even flipping the pages of textbooks can be disruptive.

Clemons also offers equipment necessary for film classes and movie screenings. Lindsey Arturo, a fourth-year College student majoring in English and minoring in film studies, enjoys using the equipment in the Robertson Media Center on the third floor of Clemons for film editing.

Alderman Library's McGregor Room, also known as the "Harry Potter room" because its atmosphere reminds visitors of the Hogwarts school in the popular book and movie series, is equally as quiet as the first floor of Clemons. 

Meng also enjoys studying in the Music Library.

"I love the Music Library. It's a relaxed sort of quiet, relatively less crowded, close to all my classes, and full of cozy nooks and music friends," she explained.

The Music Library is also a venue where students can hear concerts in Old Cabell Auditorium free of charge

Third-year College student Yunzhou Li enjoys studying in the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library, located on Jefferson Park Avenue. For him, it offers a wide range of science resources that benefits his studies in biology and chemistry. "I like to study there because there is no one there and it's also close to the Corner," Li said.

U.Va. has 11 libraries in all, located throughout Grounds. Glass, who works in Clemons, mentioned the online booking system ()for library study spaces. He especially recommends it to incoming first-year students who are unfamiliar with the system.

In addition to libraries, U.Va. offers other interesting, lesser-known places to read and study.

David Cheng, who graduated in 2010, recommends a space in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. "Small Hall in the back of SEAS is a hidden gem," said Cheng, who learned about the little study room from upperclassmen during his time at U.Va.

Newcomb Hall also provides space for studying. The Student Activities Center on the first floor has rows of computers and desks near the entrance. The Media Activities Center on the lower level of Newcomb also provides computer and digital media space. Students in these study spaces will not only have easy access to technology, but also to food. 

Some students choose off-Grounds venues to read the hundreds of pages of assigned reading.

Cafés are the most popular of these places for students to study. Shuang-Ning Ling, a 2009 graduate, recommends Para Coffee on Elliewood Avenue, the upstairs of Starbucks on the Corner and Hotcakes in Barracks Road Shopping Center. These places offer large comfortable couches along with long tables on which piles of books can be placed. Students also have easy access to food and drinks – essential elements during cram sessions for exams and papers.

Another common gathering place for students is Panera Bread in Barracks Road Shopping Center, which offers free wi-fi.

Friends' apartments make the best place for a study group, Ling said, because "company is more important than venue," she said.

— By Julia Wang

Media Contact

Dan Heuchert

Assistant Director of University News and Chief Copy Editor, UVA Today Office of University Communications