By Maddie Bernard, Columnist

You walk into the library during dead week, and it’s packed. You scan all the floors for a place to sit, but it seems like the entire Pacific Lutheran University student body has decided to come to the library today. We all know that feeling. It is frustrating when your favorite study spot is taken or surrounded by too many people. Although the library will fill up in the next month, there are ways to avoid the crowds. Don’t be afraid to try a new study location if the library is too busy. There are many study spots at PLU that are underused, and changing your study location may even help you retain more information.

According to an article in The New York Times, switching study spots actually helps students remember more information. The change of environment makes the brain take in new facts about its surroundings but it also absorbs the new facts the student is studying. The article also stated students retained less information when placed in an isolated, quiet area than in a somewhat populated area with a view of a window.   While the library is quiet and may help you focus, it may not help you with remembering information you studied. Changing your study location can help you avoid crowds, retain more information and make studying more enjoyable.

When you go to the same area every day to do homework, it turns into a dreaded routine. It is helpful to find new areas where you enjoy studying, instead of commuting to the library every day. There are a variety of other great places around campus to study that can help you avoid crowds and change your routine. I personally enjoy studying in the Anderson University Center.

I usually go around 8-8:30 p.m. because the dinner crowd has left by then, and it is fairly deserted. There is a slight buzz of noise from students going to the Old Main Market, but I enjoy not feeling isolated.  The AUC is full of comfortable booths where you can sit for long periods of time, and the lighting is nice for studying. Also, since the Old Main Market is nearby, you can take a study break and grab some snacks without having to walk across campus. Personally, I think the AUC is a perfect, but very underrated, study spot.

Another atypical, but favorite, study spot of mine is Morken Center for Learning and Technology. Because of all the natural light, Morken is a peaceful place to study. I enjoy sitting at the tables on the first floor or in the comfy chairs on the second floor. Morken is open late, and not many people think to study there.

If you know you have a long day of studying ahead of you, I suggest going to a coffee shop off campus with some friends. Getting off campus is a nice change of pace, and it is fun to hunt down new locations.   Some of my favorite coffee study shops are Northern Pacific Coffee Company and Blue Steel Coffee. Both are relatively close to campus and have peaceful environments.  You can relax with your friends, get a cup of coffee and a panini, but also be productive at the same time. Getting off campus makes studying more enjoyable and also changes up your boring routine.

However, if the library is still the study location where you are the most productive, there are ways to beat the rush of study-crazed students.   The first is get to the library early. I find that the best way to secure a table at the library is to eat an early dinner and head over around 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., just as the dinner rush starts. This way you can beat the dinner and library rush and get a head start on studying for the night.
Also, be sure to reserve study rooms early. If you wait until dead week to try to get a study room, you will be unsuccessful. Reserve a study room now, so you can have a quiet area to escape from the crowded library.

While the crowds seem insurmountable, if you plan ahead, you too can avoid the crowds during finals week and continue to study in peace.   However, you can avoid the finals chaos completely by changing up your studying spots. I love to switch up the areas I study, because it keeps things interesting, and I don’t get stuck in a rut. So the next time you dread going to the library to write your paper, mix it up and find a new study spot that works for you.

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