Study spots on campus

Dec. 4, 2014, 10:18 a.m.

As finals begin and students across campus begin to cram for chemistry, fix those last bugs on their CS assignments or crowd the Hume Center for help on their final English papers, many students are searching for the best place to get their work done.

Many students agree that the perfect study spot must combine an environment with little outside distraction and a pleasant surrounding so as not to get one’s spirits down. Here are spots popular with your fellow studying savants:

The hanging garden at the Law School

Victoria White ’18 found out about the “secret garden” above the Law School from her SPOT leader at the beginning of fall quarter. After taking her leader’s advice and walking up the spiral staircase, White discovered a beautiful, quiet space where vines drape over the wrought iron designs that encircle the space.

“I immediately knew this would be my study spot,” White said.

Maddie Saviano ’18 agreed. “It’s usually pretty quiet and not overly crowded,” she said. Saviano likes the nature feel of the garden and that it’s not a traditional study spot since “book stacks on end are nauseating.”

Local park off Alvarado Row

Some students might want to avoid crowds of other students as the clacking of keyboards and the frantic flipping of pages of a colossal art history textbook can be distracting to those trying to focus. Going off campus can be difficult unless you have a car, but some local parks are accessible by foot.

One particularly nice green space equipped with benches and luscious flora can be found off of Alvarado Row. The park is relatively small, but the tranquil atmosphere is unequaled. For students who miss a neighborhood feel and watching dog walkers go by, this is the spot for you.

The Engineering Quad

While undergraduates might not frequent the Engineering Quad as they do Main Quad, some great study spots can be found in this newer addition to the Stanford campus.

Luis Kumanduri ’18 likes the light that pours into the Huang Lobby and finds it an uplifting environment for writing his PWR essays.

“I like the modern architecture and the sleek design of the buildings in the engineering quad,” Kumanduri said. “From the grassy steps outside the Huang building to the couches inside Y2E2, there are many relaxing places to get your studying out of the way.”

It doesn’t hurt that Coupa is a few steps away either, Kumanduri also noted.

Meena Chetty ’18 likes to study outside on the third floor of the Engineering Quad, which gives her some elevation from the traffic below but plenty of access to sunshine.

“I appreciate the combination of ambient noise and open space,” Chetty said.

GSB balconies

Some of the best real estate on the Stanford campus can be found at the Graduate School of Business (GSB). From lawn chairs in the sun to the delicious sushi at Arbuckle dining, the GSB feels like a bubble within a bubble.

According to Lena Giger ’18, the best place to study here is on the second floor balconies that overlook the GSB courtyards.

“I love being outside and the GSB courtyards are a secluded spot where I can relax and enjoy a beautiful view of campus,” Giger said.

While there might be crowds of conference attendees circulating during the day, Giger explained there aren’t many people around in the evenings, so it’s quiet and peaceful.


Most Stanford students have enjoyed a chai tea latte or delicious panini from The Coffee House (affectionately known as CoHo), but not everyone would realize what a perfect place this cozy café is for catching up on psychology reading or editing a Thinking Matters essay.

“There are always people around, conversations and music in the background,” said Cissy Shi ’18, who says CoHo is her favorite spot to study at Stanford.

“It makes me feel less stressed and isolated but I can still tune out the noise and focus on work,” Shi said of the social environment around her while she studies.

As a mid-study treat, there is always an array of goods for hungry students to enjoy: chocolate croissants, colossal scones and chocolate chip cookies, to name a few.

The Oval

While The Oval is situated in the center of campus, students looking for a study space often overlook it. The expansive length of bright green grass in the middle of a drought, however, provides a nice cushion for students who enjoy working outside.

The view when you pause to look up from your laptop (the Oval is equipped with some of the best Wi-Fi on campus according to campus tour guides) is unparalleled: the background of rolling California hills with Stanford’s own dish located behind the ever majestic Memorial Church. Turn the other way and enjoy Palm Drive laid out before you.

Ella King ’18 enjoys stopping by The Oval in between classes to avoid the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced Stanford life.

“It’s oddly perfect,” King said, noting that the green space is rarely populated by students.

The Arizona Garden

Off of Palm Drive lies an unusual addition to the otherwise bush-like landscape: the Arizona Garden. Cacti grow all over and desert plants take this drought as an opportunity to thrive.

Alex Ortega ’18, enjoys getting away from the hustle and bustle of campus and studying here.

“It’s a pristine location for optimal nature viewing,” Ortega said.

Ortega said that he feels isolated when he studies there and cites occasionally seeing deer as evidence of this isolation. Students from the southwestern United States would certainly feel at home in this garden where cacti outnumber people by a large margin.

Your dorm room

While some students see a dorm room as too distracting, especially ones located in a bustling freshman dorm, some of the best studying for Sierra Killian ‘18 is done right at home.

Killian likes the fact that she doesn’t have to get her bag checked like she would at Green Library and appreciates the quiet moments in her dorm.

“I can take a nap if I feel like studying just isn’t going to happen,” Killian said.

Erik Raucher ’18 also enjoys the convenience of doing homework in his dorm room.

“I usually work in my room since I have everything in one spot,” Raucher said.

Dorm halls too noisy in the evening?

Raucher has a solution: “I stream rain noise from my speakers so that I don’t have to hear people talking in the halls.”

Contact Elizabeth Wallace at wallacee ‘at’

Liz Wallace, class of 2018, is a reporter for the Stanford Daily with a love for environmental science, literature, and late night discussions over mugs of hot chocolate. Wallace hails from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and can be contacted at [email protected].

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