When you’re studying for a big presentation at work or need to ace an exam and it seems like everyone around you is in cahoots to make the most noise possible, take solace in it not being just you. Studying takes focus and a comfortable environment, which looks different for everyone.
A bustling coffee shop might be your jam, but the smell of coffee and clinking machines could be another person’s nightmare. If you’re in the market for a new study spot, here are some underrated haunts to try.
Try a Traditional Study Spot That's New to You
These traditional study spots have worked for generations. You know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But even though these are tried-and-true, there are ways to make them feel brand new to you.
Just keep in mind that because they’re everyone’s go-to, finding a spot in the crowds to study might be harder than you think.
Even though a library is a traditional study spot, you can switch things up by trying different libraries in your area — or even checking out different floors than you normally study on.
No two libraries are built the same, but they all should have a few desks or tables and computers that you can use to spread out your stuff. Just be mindful about their rules concerning food and drink, and what their hours are. Most libraries (save a few university ones) aren’t open 24/7. But they’re a great place to get extra resources if you're stuck on something.
Look into reserving a private room if you really need seclusion. Or, see if your library has a silent floor you can head to.
If you’re not a library person, then you might be a coffee shop person. They’re another one of the most popular places to study. One, because you can get beverages and treats to get you through the session. And two, because it has a less severe ambiance. You can play your music without worrying someone might overhear and complain.
While well-known chain coffee shops are a solid bet, unique ones are also often popping up, so it's worth scouting your city for a new one that's a bit different to see what the study environment is like.
Just keep in mind that coffee shops are businesses, and they’ll expect you to buy something while you’re there in order to stay. Also, because they're such a popular spot, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find a table when you show up.
Study Spots That Are Off the Beaten Path
If you’re tired of competing to land an open table or with squeezing into tiny spaces on tables that are already half full, then these study spots that are off the beaten path are perfect for you.
If you’re in university, ask your department head what the classroom schedule is like and if there are any time slots where a few are empty. If you’re well known in the department and a responsible student, then one of your teachers may unlock a classroom for you to use.
A Professor’s Office
If you’re trying to study for a specific exam or assignment and you’re struggling, head to the professor’s office hours. A good professor should welcome you to stay and study in their space, as well as answer any questions you have. They want you to succeed and should be willing to help you get there.
In sunny weather, there’s no better place to study than a park. When the only thing you’ve got to listen to is the distant sound of birds twittering or leaves rustling, you should be able to really delve into the material.
However, parks don’t usually have internet service. So unless you’ve got battery packs and hotspots, they’re best saved for when you’re studying analog style.
Some public gardens, greenways, and even rest stops have tables or benches suitable to study at, along with pretty surroundings that might make for the perfect study session.
If you’ve got clothes to clean and things to study for, head to the laundromat. Usually, it’s pretty quiet and you can kill two birds with one stone. Getting to smell the fresh laundry detergent wafting in the air is just a bonus. But keep in mind that there aren't conventional places to set up shop.
Fast Food Restaurants
While it depends on a few factors, a fast food restaurant could be a perfect gem for your next study session. Some restaurants are less busy during certain hours, or people could be more prone to going through the drive-through at certain times. That leaves a spot complete with food and free Wi-Fi for your next study session.
Places to Study Late Into the Night
Sometimes you’ve got to burn the midnight oil and your regular four-walls just aren’t cutting it. Get a change of pace and some fresh air with these late-night places you can study.
Bakeries & Cafes
Investigate your area and see what bakeries/cafes are nearby. Depending on the chain, you might stumble across a few that are open late into the evening. For example, if you’re in the Charlotte area, you can head to Amelie’s French Bakery & Café and enjoy tasty treats while studying 'til 12 a.m.
Though they seem like a rare thing nowadays, there are still some 24/7 diners around. They’re perfect for when you just get off a late-night shift and want to settle into a good meal while reading through your study material.
If a diner or restaurant feels like a good study spot but seems too noisy, you can try putting in your earbuds or headphones and playing white noise while you work. A study in Scientific Reports showed that white noise may even help improve cognitive performance and lower stress levels in some people.
Barnes & Noble
Most Barnes & Noble stores come with a coffee/café section inside, which is great if you want a relatively quiet place and somewhere to study. The hours vary by location, but they’re usually open until 9 or 10 p.m.
If you need a place to study on the road, Waffle House is the place to go. Granted, you never know exactly what adventures await you in a late-night Waffle House, but that’s part of its charm.
Tips for Finding New Places to Study
When you’re looking for new places to study, there are a few things to consider. Make sure it’s the perfect place for you before driving out there by asking yourself these questions:
- What’s the sound like? If it's somewhere people eat, chances are it’s going to get pretty loud at times. Think about how much sound you can handle when picking your spots.
- Does the place have outlets/internet? Most people study on some digital device, which means you’ll need an outlet and/or internet at some point. Plan accordingly if the places around you don’t have them.
- When is it usually busy? When you’re studying, you probably want the smallest crowd possible. That means the least amount of noise interference and the most open table space.
- Do you have to buy something to stay? A lot of places require that you buy something before being able to sit. If so, make sure you have some money on hand.
- Is there good parking? If you’re driving to a study spot, then you want to make sure you can actually find parking. The place won’t do you much good if the nearest place to park is a 20-minute walk away.
It Might Be Time to Switch Up Your Study Spots
People are creatures of habit, so when you find one study spot, you tend to just keep going back. But maybe there’s a better place to study just waiting to be discovered. Look around your area and see what options are available. The more places you know of, the less likely you’ll get in a bind in the future.