By Brandon Smith
Maybe you’ve finished all your classes for the day and you need a quiet place to finish your homework. Maybe you scheduled your classes two hours apart and you need to kill some time. Maybe you just want a place to take a nap. In any case, Grand Rapids Community College is full of different spaces to hang out, and the Collegiate scoured the downtown campus for the most underappreciated study spaces.
Many students know about the study areas on the first and fourth floors of the RJF Building, but did you know that there’s a quieter, less crowded study area on the G2 floor? Or that you can get a personal study room in Cook Hall? Here are some suggestions to help you around campus so that savvy Collegiate readers will always have a place to go.
- Ease of access to classrooms
- Charging outlets
- Uncomfortable stools
- Often crowded
When it comes to getting work done between classes, there’s no better place than the many available areas in Cook Hall. Anybody with a minor in study etiquette will tell you that Cook Hall offers perhaps the widest range of options for studying. The Tutorial Labs on the first, second, third, and fourth floors offer private study rooms that are first come, first serve to all students regardless of their coursework. That means an English major is more than welcome in the Mathematics Lab, although if you want to take advantage of the tutoring services, be sure to visit the appropriate lab.
In addition, there’s a lounge in the back of the first floor and tables on the fifth. However, if you’re someone who desires somewhere a bit more secluded, there are quiet student lounges scattered around on each floor and small study nooks by the stairwells on the fourth and fifth floors. These nooks are often empty, making it a perfect place to study in peace.
Anyone who isn’t in the dental program should stay far away from the confusing and frightening labyrinth that is the third floor.
The downside to studying in Cook Hall is that it is a high traffic area. It might be the closest area to your own classroom, but it’s also the closest to everyone else’s. That makes it easy to get distracted, and if you weren’t lucky enough to grab a table on the fifth floor or you want to avoid the busier areas, the stools can be uncomfortable to sit on. They aren’t adjustable, and they provide no back support.
“I don’t mind (the stools) for short periods,” says Allison Hoop, a 22-year-old student from Jackson. “If I’m ever gonna come and study for a longer period, I usually go find somewhere more comfortable. I really like the library seating.”
Hoop, who is majoring in Hospitality Management, was studying before class on the second floor. She told the Collegiate that she splits her study time between the Tutorial Lab and the hallways. When asked what she looks for in a study space, Hoop said that she preferred quieter areas.
“I like that there’s an area to sit right outside the classroom, but also I’m someone that gets very distracted by people-watching very easily,” says Hoop. “Because I’ll hear a door open and be like ‘who’s coming?’”
In any case, the convenience of studying in Cook Hall is balanced by the lack of quiet or secluded spaces. Student discretion is advised.
Calkins Science Center
- Comfortable seating
- Private study rooms available
- Quick access to science classes
- Far distance from the rest of campus
Anyone who has visited the Calkins Science Center has probably noticed the student lounges. There’s one by the stairs on almost every floor, and with the floor-to-ceiling windows, they provide an excellent view of the city. If you can get a seat, these spaces are highly recommended for working while you’re in the Science Center.
However, the best place to work in the Calkins Science Center is in the private study rooms on the first floor. Open to all students, these study rooms come equipped with whiteboards, a table, and chairs. These study rooms are excellent for group projects, and they’re surprisingly spacious.
The downside would be the distance between the Calkins Science Center and the rest of the GRCC campus. It’s not so bad if you parked in Parking Ramp B (formerly the Lyon Street parking ramp) and you don’t have a reason to go to the wider area of campus, but if you parked in Parking Ramp A (formerly the Bostwick parking ramp) or you have a class in Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall, you might find yourself rushing to cross Lyon Street or hurrying to navigate the Ford Fieldhouse rooftop to get to class in time. These spots are great, but probably not the best option for students who have no business in the Science Center.
- Comfortable seating and tables
- Close to the Quiet Café and Raider Grill
- High traffic area
- Medium distance from classrooms
To anyone who’s a studying pro, this spot is known as “Ol’ Reliable”.
The Student Center is the central point of the downtown campus. Climbing up to the third floor might be a pain, but the Quiet Café and Raider Grill are located on the second floor for those in need of a coffee or snack to boost their energy. In addition to this, there are free snack pantries and free-to-use computers available for students.
There’s a plentiful amount of comfortable seating, making this a great place to unwind. The downside is that the Student Center, like Cook Hall, is a high-traffic area, so it can get a little loud at times. It’s also further from classrooms than some of the other spaces on this list, but it’s a good spot that offers the best all-around options.
“I study/do homework (for two hours),” says Tyler Herbig, 21, from Grandville. Herbig, who is studying Psychology, was studying in the Student Center for the first time when he was approached by The Collegiate and offered his first impressions of the area. Usually, Herbig has two hours between his classes to work, but he hasn’t been able to find a reliable study space. “Sometimes I just walk around (the RJF Building)… and find a place to sit that has limited people.”
Herbig says that he thought that the Student Center was a comfortable place to work.
“I really like it,” he told the Collegiate. “I’ll probably come back here.”
Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall
- Close to classrooms and Winchester Alley
- Plenty of study areas available
- Study areas can get crowded
- Can get loud sometimes
Much like Cook Hall, Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall offers a plethora of study areas that are close to the classrooms in this building. On the second floor in the Meijer Business Center, there are small, snug cubbies against the walls. On the fourth floor, there’s a popular lounge area by the skywalk. There are benches on almost every floor.
One spot to highlight is on the G2 floor, down the hall from Winchester Alley. If you’re looking for aesthetic, this is it. When the lights are off, the shady atmosphere makes this an excellent place to sit and work on a laptop or catch a quick nap on the comfortable seats that they have. Because of its proximity to Winchester Alley, you could also grab a bite to eat. In addition, all classrooms are just an elevator ride away.
“I study here a good amount. It’s pretty quiet, there’s no lights, which is kinda nice,” says Tate Greer, who was the only student in the lounge.
Greer, 19, is a business major who was studying for his philosophy test. Sprawled out on the couch, he expressed that he enjoyed the comfortable seating and dim lighting. Best of all, it was close to his philosophy classroom.
“It just is nice when you can kinda be in your own little world,” Greer says.
The downside of RJF Hall is that many of the lounge areas are packed rather tightly together. If you’re the kind of person who gets distracted by people sitting too close, these areas can get a little tight sometimes. In addition, people walking from classroom to classroom or talking too loudly can get distracting sometimes. However, if you’re waiting for a class in RJF Hall or don’t want to travel too far after one ends, there’s all kinds of options here.
Library & Learning Commons
- Free coffee
- Quiet atmosphere
- Plenty of seats and tables
- A long walk from classrooms
- Quiet area makes group work difficult
For seasoned study experts, the library is the equivalent to a five-star kitchen. This place is great. There’s plenty of resources for students on the first floor, like free books on a cart, a snack pantry in the lobby, and computers available for those who need access. Not to mention, anything you need to help with your studies is available here. There are even some magazines and journals such as The Economist that come in every week.
“In the back corner over by the periodicals, we have a noise-canceling device that… creates white noise. It’s not currently running because we haven’t been too busy, but pre-pandemic we had that running,” said Mike Klawitter, a campus historian who was working at the reference desk when he was approached by the Collegiate. “But the other quiet spaces behind the book stacks, where those individual carrels are (can be very popular).”
Some of the most popular study spaces include the carrels on the first floor or the various quiet areas on the second floor. In addition, the library also offers free coffee and hot water by the front desk. There are also windowside tables and chairs for studying with a view.
When it comes to group work however, the library does not have private study rooms, which can make discussion difficult. Despite the wide space between each table, students working in the library are careful to keep volume to a minimum.
“We don’t really have private study space, like enclosed,” Klawitter says. “We have no study rooms. It’s been on our wishlist.”
Also, because it is located between the ATC and Music buildings, it is all the way across campus from RJF Hall and Cook Hall, so this isn’t really a “between classes” option. On particularly icy winter days, the walk to the library can even be treacherous with patches of ice on the bridge or enormous puddles in front of the doors.
That said, the library is the best option if you have a couple hours to kill and you want to buckle down and finish a lot of work in a comfortable, quiet space.
Now that you have the tools you need to be a studying pro, go forth and study hard. No matter how you study, whether in a group or alone, in a private study room or in a public lounge, GRCC provides plenty of opportunities for a wide variety of different work styles. No matter where your class is, there will always be a study space close by.
Remember, studying can wait, but finals wait for no one.