Photo credit: © Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Finals week is stressful for everyone, even more so when you can’t find a place to study. For freshmen who are new to the finals week flow, you will find that Oakland turns into a scene straight out of The Hunger Games, but instead of fighting for food and shelter, students are hunting for any open tables and outlets all across Oakland. As a junior going into my fifth finals week, I fancy myself a seasoned veteran when it comes to finding a place to hunker down to ace my final exams. With that being said, I’m ready to impart my wisdom and secrets upon the rest of the Pitt campus, with the hope that we can all survive during these dreaded weeks to come. So here is a list of the best places to study around or just beyond our beloved Oakland campus.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Located at 4400 Forbes Avenue, the Carnegie Library is by far my favorite spot just off campus to study. This public library has all the benefits of Hillman without the overcrowding: a Crazy Mocha coffee shop on the ground floor; a studious, yet not entirely silent atmosphere, and, if you look hard enough, tables and outlets in every corner of this library. The only downside of studying here is that it closes at 8:00 pm on weeknights and 5:00 pm on the weekend.
Frick Fine Arts Building
The Frick Fine Arts Library is an oft-forgotten study spot adjacent to Schenley Plaza. Although small, this library provides an out of the way, quiet place for students who just want to sit down and focus on getting their work done. The aesthetic of this library is enough to provide you with the right amount of distraction, as the two-level wooden bookshelves line the small room. Unfortunately, like the Carnegie Library, this place suffers from early closing hours, and the limited amount of tables can go quickly. So if you want to study in this picturesque little library, get there early and pack some snacks!
Barco Law Building
Venture down to the basement of the Barco Law Building, and you’ll find Pitt’s very own Room of Requirement. With comfy booths and lots of outlets lining the walls, the study environment found here is one that makes you feel like you are in law school. They lock the doors at 11:00 pm, but the night crew won’t kick you out until the clock strikes midnight.
Posvar, with its unique layout, is rife with empty classrooms and random tables throughout the building. With Einstein’s Bagels on the second floor, studying in Posvar ensures that you always have food nearby. The only downsides of the hidden hallway study spots in Posvar are the spotty wi-fi and high volume of liberal arts majors in the halls. With that being said, any prudent studier should beware of the dance groups that tend to meet on the ground floor on nights and the weekends.
William Pitt Union
With the Schenley Café on the bottom floor to provide you with tons of food options throughout the day, the WPU is your stomach’s favorite place to study. As you explore the levels, you’ll find more and more spots to settle in and study. The fifth floor is filled with comfy couches that will have you beating yourself up for not discovering this place earlier in the semester.
While further down Fifth Avenue than most students regularly venture, Alumni Hall has a treasure trove of places to study. With widely unknown group study rooms that you can reserve in the basement and tables hidden throughout the building, Alumni Hall is never short of places for you to study. The third-floor atrium is perfect for getting in the right mood to cram for your tests, with the large windows and massive chandeliers providing just the right amount of lighting to keep you focused without tiring out your eyes.
The bustling metropolis that is Market Central may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think about places to study for your finals, but, trust me, the constant supply of food and caffeine is enough to keep you going to ace your finals. If you are not the type of person who can study in a busy and noisy environment, Market is not the place for you. However, if you are like me and prioritize food above all else, Market is your go-to study location. Get there early enough to claim a booth and you’re set for the entire day.
If you don’t study the ~actual~ sciences, you’ve likely never been to this building, or even know where it is for that matter. With its own Einstein Bros. and spacious ground floor, as well as classrooms on the upper level, this building will get you ready for finals with scientific precision.
While not exactly the coziest studying environment, if you’re just looking for a place to sit down and get some work done, then the Petersen Events Center is the place to go. The Pete possesses one thing that Hillman doesn’t: a lot of empty tables. No one thinks of the Pete as a study space, so come finals week, the place is pretty deserted. With the restaurants at the Pete, and the Perch not too far away, students will not go hungry if they decide to pick this athletic haven for their finals week cramming.
Adorned with holiday decorations this time of year, the Cathedral of Learning is one of the best places on campus to study during finals week. That is, if you can find a table. While usually packed year-round, Cathy has that academic draw that lures students into her Gothic oasis. The low lighting and uncomfortable chairs make sure you’re at just the right level of alertness while you delve into your textbooks and notes to prepare for your final exams. If you need a more classroom-like environment to study in, grab an actual classroom! Although the Nationality Rooms get locked up at the end of the day, the other classrooms in Cathy are open all night. So grab your friends and claim a room — just make sure you put a piece of paper on the door handle, the tell-tale sign to other students that the room is occupied and they should have started the hunt earlier.
Like most things in life, a trip to Hillman during finals is all about timing. With the fourth floor closed for renovations, the crowd is an even bigger problem in Hillman this semester. So, if Hillman holds as special a place in your heart — as it does in mine — studying there for finals week involves a little strategizing and maybe even a group effort. If you walk into Hillman during finals week, do not be surprised if you see people running to grab tables, sitting on the floor, or even curled up with blankets and pillows, ready to spend the night, or week, defending their claimed table and outlets. Hillman is the only place on campus that, at two in the morning during finals week, will always be there for you.