For better or worse, mid-term season is here. Below are my rankings of several nearby study spots to help you decide which ones to avoid, and which ones will make your late-night cram sessions as enjoyable as possible.
Athenaeum Ground Floor Group Study Tables
These tables are flooded with natural light, tabletop space, and perhaps most importantly, power outlets. Each table comes with its own lamp (which has soft, pleasant lighting) containing an outlet in the base – a feature that is essential to today’s workload culture of assignments increasingly requiring device usage. The space can get hot depending on how sunny it is outside, and it’s a bit of a trek to the bathroom or Alice’s when you need a break. However, the presence of other students diligently working and milling around cultivates an environment that helps one get in the zone. Since it is a group space, it can get a bit loud at times, so keep that in mind if you’re someone who likes to study in the quiet.
Overall rating: ⅘
What we love: Convenient location, lots of power outlets, great for groups, natural lighting
What we don’t love: Far from the bathrooms and Alice’s, can get hot
No one can deny the wave of excitement that overcame students (and annoyed recent grads) when they learned Alice’s would be reopening last Fall. The cafe’s tables have been a popular meeting spot for group projects and study sessions, as well as for individuals who prefer an upbeat cafe environment. However, Alice’s lacks the feel of a real coffee shop due to its shortage of ambiance and traditional cafe-style seating (couches and arm chairs, in addition to normal tables and chairs). Its biggest flaw is the deficiency of power outlets – there’s only two, plus an obscure charging station with several short, random cords. It’s right next to the Hyman Forum and is not separated by a wall, and as a result, whenever there are speakers or events there they are heard loud and clear from Alice’s.
Overall: Rating: ⅖
What we love: Convenient location, good drinks, friendly staff, outdoor seating, great for groups
What we don’t love: Limited hours, very limited vegan/GF options, lack of power outlets, expensive, noise
Athenaeum Fourth Floor Exercise Machines
In my four years at Goucher, I have only seen someone using the exercise machines in the Ath once. Being able to get in a workout while doing assignments would be a great time-saver, but these exercise machines were not modified to hold a laptop or notebook, rendering them useless for most homework tasks. The location of the machines could not be more public, as they’re visible from multiple levels of the Ath and are situated in a hallway with lots of foot traffic, so if you use the machines, know that your peers will see you getting hot and sweaty.
Overall rating: 0/5
What we love: Potential to multitask
What we don’t love: Public space, no desk space, a bit of a nuisance
Athenaeum Quiet Floor Group Study Room (Fourth Floor)
Getting your hands on a study room is oftentimes pure luck due to the Ath’s lack of secluded study spots. However, I’ve always been baffled as to why someone thought it was a good idea to put a group study room with glass walls on a quiet floor. Its patrons are also required to abide by quiet floor rules, making it unideal for a collaborative project or group work session. The glass also poses a distraction – any time someone walks up the adjacent steps or walks into the quiet floor, you feel compelled to look and see who it is.
Overall rating: ⅕
What we love: Natural light, whiteboard
What we don’t love: Quiet floor, distracting, far from the bathrooms
The Bun Shop (Towson Location)
Situated in the heart of downtown Towson, this spot is popular for a reason. Decorated with plants, delicate lighting, and a muted color scheme, the ambiance is unmatched and creates a comforting environment to get work done in. The Bun Shop serves delicious teas, coffees, and sweet and savory buns to snack on while working on assignments, with prices comparable to Alice’s. There’s various types of seating to choose from, including couches, benches, or regular tables and chairs, and natural light pours in from their large window facing Chesapeake Ave. It’s only a five minute drive if you have access to a car, and a 20 minute walk if you’re up for a stroll. Turn mundane, tedious assignments into a productive outing by heading down York Road to this spot!
Overall rating: 5/5
What we love: Close to campus, great vibes, good food, natural light
What we don’t love: Some vegan/GF options, can be hard to find parking nearby
The Towson Public Library
Also a short trip down York Road, the Towson branch of the Baltimore County Public Library system is a forgotten gem. It’s a unique library, but offers another option of places to get work done if the Ath isn’t doing it for you. There are only two study rooms available for patrons to use, and same-day, in-person sign up is required on a first-come, first-served basis. However, there are also designated quiet areas with work spaces available, which do not require reservation.
Overall rating: ⅗
What we love: Proximity to campus, close to various food spots in Towson,
What we don’t love: Limited amount of study spaces, parking may be an issue