Seek your perfect space


Alex Nally | Staff Photographer

By Amber Montgomery | Columnist

I’m a big advocate of sports loyalty points.

It makes sense — rewarding students who support all of Pitt’s sports teams fosters a community with Pitt pride.

Students at Pitt gain loyalty points with basketball tickets, an incentive for those who attend more games throughout the season.

Sometimes, though, I wish we’d apply the loyalty points system to other aspects of college, including the least glamorous but arguably most important part of the experience.

I’m talking about studying.

I’m a Hillman regular all year round. So when it’s finals week and my favorite tables are being taken up by last-minute crammers who haven’t been there all semester, I’m thrown into a bout of rage. It’s kind of like showing up to the most popular athletic rivalry of the year only to realize that your favorite seat in the stands is taken. It’s never an easy defeat when I have to resort to the Wesley W. Posvar Hall,  with nothing but a swiftly dying laptop battery to comfort me.

According to the 2014 National Survey of Student Engagement’s study, college students spend an average of 17 hours per week studying. While it’s easy to get distracted by floor programs, new clubs and lounging on the lawn in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in the first few weeks of school, it’s important to get your study habits down before you fall behind.

Alas, Hillman loyalty points do not come with the package. But there are plenty of locations throughout Pitt and Oakland for studying — each with their own advantages and setbacks.

Hillman Library is the number one go-to for many students — which makes it problematic. Once it gets crowded during peak panic hours, you’re going to want some more options.

The Barco Law Library is right around the corner with a much quieter, austere environment for rigorous studying. Although it closes at 5 p.m., so law students and legal researchers have it to themselves, there is no better place to get work done during the daytime with minimal distractions.

One of Oakland’s best and underused resources is the Carnegie Library across Forbes Avenue from the Cathedral of Learning. Its marbled, clean architecture is reminiscent of the Carnegie Museums. It has plenty of space, plus individual lamps and outlets at most of the seats — a rare occurrence at Pitt.

Likewise, the libraries in Frick Fine Arts Building and Mervis Hall are two gems starved of the recognition they deserve. Frick is small but beautiful and usually empty, complete with an art gallery and a fountain if you want to take a break and enliven your visual experience. Mervis is a building a lot of students — especially outside of the College of Business Administration — aren’t even aware of. It’s the one with the mirrored walls across from Bouquet Gardens.

The trade-off for these well-kept secrets is their not-so-college-friendly hours. Frick and Carnegie are open until 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively, Monday through Thursday. Mervis is open until 11:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Another petite but cozy study area — with more accessible hours — is the student lounge on the ninth floor of the William Pitt Union. The couches offer a relaxed atmosphere and the surrounding windows overlook breathtaking views of our lovely Cathy.

If you have a meal plan, Market Central is open until the morning hours Sunday through Thursday. Not only is it great for snacking, you can get all three meals for one swipe if you stay there for the long haul.

Or, if you like to combine studying with a work out, the Petersen Events Center has plenty of tables, chairs and comfy spots by the food court you can plop down in before or after you hit the gym. Exercise your body, exercise your brain.   

Finding what works for your studying habits might take time, but if you keep your options open and are willing to explore a bit, you can find a few places sure to raise your GPA by at least .5 percentage points — but please don’t quote me on that.

Write to Amber at [email protected]

Amber primarily writes about gender and politics for The Pitt News.

Write to Amber at [email protected]

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