With exam season upon us, campus is once again faced with a massive increase in demand for study spaces. On Sunday afternoon, The Xaverian Weekly spoke with a dozen students about their study habits during the exam period. Here's what they had to say.
Is there enough study space on campus?
Berlin, third year Human Nutrition, and Hannah, third year Finance. Studying in: PSC pod
Not at all.
Solution: Maybe by opening other rooms and letting them be used for stud space. There's a lot of locked rooms in buildings that could be used during exams. I know that in the Schwartz on first floor and even second on the main hallway there's little conference rooms, big tables with chairs. Those doors are always locked. It's trying because I wouldn't mind being in that room with other people. It would be nice to not have to get up and fight to the death to find a place to study.
On their study spot: Our friends actually came here earlier, probably around 8 a.m. Last year one of my friends used to get up at 6 a.m. every day to come and get a pod here.
Brandon, third year Finance. Studying in: Coady 265, Bergengren Room
No. Even in the Education building, there’s two classrooms, big classrooms that are locked on the weekends. Could probably fit twenty people in there easily.
Solution: Probably longer hours, I’d say. Maybe open it earlier. I know the library is open at 8. I think it should be open from 7 until 1 or 2. Education and Coady is open now until 11. I think it should be open until 12. The SUB is a good time. The library should be open longer.
On his study spot: I usually study in the Coady or in the Education building. It's a little bit quieter, usually there's space here. I usually get up around 8:30 and come here around 10, just hoping to get a space.
Dominic, second year Business. Studying in: Schwartz, second floor
Yeah, for the most part. Usually there's quite a bit of space to study, I find.
On his study spot: Usually I'm fine finding somewhere to study.
Do you think most people on campus know about all the study spaces in this building? I'm assuming, yes. I guess it's mostly people who study Business who probably study in here more often than not.
Gillian, second year Psychology. Studying in: MacDonald Library, first floor
Solution: I think they should open more classrooms or other rooms like that. There's rooms I'm pretty sure should be open more.
On her study spot: I actually didn't get [this table], my friends got it. I think one of them had gotten up at 7 a.m.
Do you think it's reasonable for people to get up so early to get study spaces? If you want a table. I don't know. I don't like studying at seven in the morning but I guess some people do.
Jayden (right), second year Aquatic Resources. Studying in: PSC pod
Not great study space. There's definitely tons of tables at the library and all that, but not spaces like this to actually be able to study by yourself.
Solution: Make more?
On his study spot: Got up at 6 a.m. for the past four days. It's rough. I could get a little more sleep.
Nick (left), third year Marketing, and Daniel (right), fourth year Political Science and Spanish. Studying in: Schwartz, McNeil Gallery
No. They could open classrooms that aren't being used. I know, for example, we were walking past some of these conference rooms that aren't being used. They could be opened up.
Solution: I know there is probably a lot of promotion, but recently I was at the Wellspring tutoring someone and there was a bunch of tables there. Maybe some more promotion of areas that aren't used as much would help.
On their study spot: Most times I come here [to Schwartz] first to see if there's spots, and if not I'll go somewhere else.
Are there often spots available when you come? No. I like to sleep in too much.
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Does worrying about finding a study spot cause you added stress during the exam period?
Courtney, third year Finance. Studying in: MacDonald Library, Hall of the Clans
Absolutely. The mornings I have to get up I'm exhausted and can't concentrate.
On her study spot: Me and my roommates are doing rotation shifts. One wakes up one morning to wait in line and the others get to sleep in. I got to sleep in today. My roommate left the house at 7:20 a.m.
Would you consider studying anywhere else? I guess, if I had to, but I prefer the library. It's easier to concentrate, less distractions, a better environment. It's a space totally designated to studying. I can't study at home.
Justin, first year Aquatic Resources and Economics. Studying in: SUB, Bloomfield Cafe
During the week, sometimes. Last week it was... people were lining up outside the library at 7:30 a.m.
Do you think it's reasonable that people feel they need to do that? I feel like the library shouldn't allow people to leave their things for more than an hour. They just leave the tables there with all their things on it for a whole day sometimes. It's annoying.
Solution: Build study lounges. MSB has one. It's a little crowded, a little small for the building size, but O'Regan should have one. Mac should have one. I mean, it's college, right?
On his study spot: I like really quiet places, like the SUB and the library.
Is it easy to find a spot here? Yes. Nobody likes to come to the SUB.
Kylah, fourth year English and Development Studies. Studying in: SUB, MacKay Lounge
Not really, no.
Enough study space? No. It's so busy. There should be more places.
Solution? With the new building they're working on, making sure that they're intentional about having spaces for students to study, or even making it easier for students to book study rooms or the rooms in Schwartz.
On her study spot: I don't usually study in the SUB. I usually go somewhere in Schwartz, in one of the classrooms, or at home.
Do you have an easy time finding a spot? Not on campus, no.
Maria, fourth year Joint Honours Business and Economics. Studying in: Schwartz, Finance and Accounting Honours lab.
Do you find having a space you know you can go to mitigates your stress during the year? Yeah, definitely. Before I would get up very early to find a study space, but now I don't have to get up as early.
In the past, what would you have to do? Wake up at 6:30 a.m. to get to Coady at 7:30. I would bring my food with be and just stay there all day and not leave. Now I can get here at 9. I have all my stuff here already so I don't have to carry it with me all the time. It's great.
On her study spot: I kind of live here. During the school year it's usually just me. During exams there's only been four of us, and then we let our friends in.
Is there enough study space on campus? No. During the rest of the year it's easy enough because people don't usually study on campus, but everybody goes crazy during exams.
Mercedes, second year Science, Autumn, first year Arts, and Brianna, first year Science. Studying in: Schwartz, fourth floor lounge
Sometimes. I can't really study in my room, so if I can't find another place to go it's hard for me to focus and do what needs to be done.
On their study spot: I usually study in the library, but there's no room. The other day I came [to Schwartz] at 7 a.m. to get a study room and it was like the Hunger Games. Not exaggerating. People were shoving each other up the stairs.
Do you think it's a reasonable time to be waking up at during exams? No, I don't like that. Sometimes you want to study in a group. You can't really do that in the library because people will just yell at you to be quiet. Other places like the SUB and Mini Moe's are distracting because there's so many people around.
Solution: Open the conference rooms in Schwartz. I do understand that they want to keep them nice, but at the same time, kids are just trying to study. You can maybe use those rooms on a reserve basis so you could know who was in there if anything went wrong.
Ruby Curwin, fourth year Nursing. Studying in: MacDonald Library, first floor current serials collection
Yeah, now that I'm sitting in this spot I'm completely distracted. I've done no work because of this location that I was forced to sit in.
On her study spot: We were here at 2, 1:30-ish. We went around the entire library and there was not one table or a cubby open anywhere.
Is there enough study space on campus? No. Especially with the increase in the school population, definitely not.
Solution: Coady only has two rooms this year. Before they used to have four or five places you could study in. Just open up more spots. There's spots probably available on campus, they just don't want to give us the resources for them. They only give you two rooms in Nicholson when the whole building is full of rooms. I just don't get it.
Some students may be better off than others, but it’s safe to say that StFX gets close to maxing out its study capacity each year at exam time. The new Student Success Centre further lowered the library’s capacity, and as several students pointed out, the number of available study rooms may have decreased from previous years.
Does StFX need to take a good look at its available study space? Our sample seems to suggest so. Studying is arguably the most central aspect of a university student’s experience, and this feedback suggests that StFX’s facilities may not be meeting its students’ needs.
It’s not as though there isn’t enough physical space for everyone; in doing our rounds on Sunday, there were several spaces with no or few students in them. While these numbers may fluctuate throughout the week, less conventional study spaces like Xavier Hall, the Coady, and classrooms in Nicholson are underutilized compared to hot spots like the library or Schwartz.
However, it’s worth acknowledging that students flock to traditional study venues because they are familiar. Walking into an unknown building can be intimidating, especially if faced with the glares of stressed out students getting distracted by the squeaking of the newcomer’s boots. Students develop a routine throughout the semester, and it’s our routines that we fall back on in stressful times. Upperclassmen have an advantage in having access to spaces like the seminar rooms in Nicholson or offices in the SUB, but your average first or second year student may have no idea where the Curriculum Resource Centre is (third floor Xavier Hall) or feel inclined to hunker down there for the day (or fortnight).
Moreover, practical spaces such as study rooms and breakout rooms are few and far between. Students value spaces that are somewhat removed and allow them to work together without disturbing others – our feedback suggested that the most cutthroat early morning competition was for spaces like the pods in the Physical Sciences building or the study rooms in Schwartz.
With the Mulroney Institute impending, the architects will hopefully account for this trend away from traditional study spaces. The university has solicited feedback on what students would like to see in the new Arts facility; it is improbable that the institution would pass up the $40-million opportunity to meet the needs of its growing student body. Construction will likely put an increased strain on study space in the two years to come, between displacing classrooms where exams are written as well as study rooms, but in the long-run we can expect an improvement. The project was scaled down after the university lost its shot at federal funding, but at the very least, Mulroney should offer a building that’s wired for the twenty-first century in lieu of having to line up by 7:35 a.m. to get a table with a plug.
Alternative conclusion: who really wants to study anyway? Happy holidays, Xaverians!