You can tell a lot about a person by the subsections they divide their time into when asked to sum up their lives. Time spent sleeping versus time spent awake, time spent exercising versus time spent relaxing, time spent thinking about that boy or girl you like versus, well, nothing. But for the typical Amherst student, the distinction that we make is pretty clear. It is study time versus literally everything else we do in our lives. That’s a pretty fair representation of what life here is. The amount of time we spend studying and the level at which we do so is truly a part of our identity here. This rant, however, isn’t about the amount of work that we have to do, despite the fact that the amount of hours many of our classmates study is truly amazing. We knew what we were getting into when we signed up to go to an elite college. I doubt that anyone walked onto campus on the first day of college thinking that he or she would be able to coast through the next four years. Instead, this rant is about the lack of proper places that can be used for studying.
I have a confession to make: I hate Frost. Actually that’s not entirely true. I love libraries, and as far as libraries go I would say that ours is well above average. However, the thought of studying for hours and hours in that quiet dead space surrounded by hundreds of other people has no appeal for me. Stepping into the library with my work in hand is vaguely akin to walking into a void where the possibilities of sound or, dare I say it, fun seem impossible. I understand that this isn’t a complaint that resonates with the entire student body — some of my closest friends spend what seems like a third of their lives sitting near the stacks. To this, I say: good for them. I’m happy that they and so many others have found their ideal spot to use those study hours efficiently. However, I need alternatives.
So with the library out of the way, the next viable option would seem to be my room. It’s close, convenient — how could I possibly not study there? Well, the truth is that there are a litany of reasons, ranging from legitimate concerns to silly quibbles that would make you question my sanity. The biggest factor that prevents me from being productive in my room is that I’m not the only person who lives there. Now, I have no problems with my roommate, but there’s really no chance that every time I want to study he will be doing something quiet and unobtrusive. Nor should I expect him to, as it’s his room as well: he has every right to do whatever he wants. However, even after the issue of my roommate, there are other minor concerns. For example, I have no desire to study anywhere near my bed. Sadly, I give in to temptation far too easily to be mere feet away from the sweet release of sleep as I struggle through hundreds of pages of dry reading a night. As such, with the two main study havens for the average student unavailable to me, I’m forced to look in a different direction.
Classrooms seem to be an ideal place to get work done. After all, that’s where classes are held. If I can stay moderately focused on my teacher for hours a day in those rooms, then it only seems logical that the same would hold true for my work. In fact, since I discovered that some classrooms are left open all night, I’ve been almost unable to do my work anywhere else. And why would I? Classrooms provide a spacious but still completely private setting where I can study intently while not being afraid of making a little noise. Additionally, classrooms are ideal for meeting with groups for projects or group study sessions, or if you just want to get together with friends and study in a social setting. Unfortunately, the inherent problem with classrooms is that there are simply not enough of them. Even in buildings where empty rooms are abundant, they are often unavailable. The place where I study has three open rooms. Three. An entire building is full of empty places to work, and only three are left unlocked for use by students. It is quite simply mind-boggling.
So come on Amherst, help us out. I know you want us to study a lot, and I know you want us to study well. We’re more than willing to put in the hours — it’s on you to give us a chance to use those hours effectively.