Top 10 Places to Study at Oberlin College

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The endless search for a spot at the ideal place to study can make you feel like you’re in The Hunger Games. At Oberlin, students frequent places like the bustling first floor of Mudd Library and cafes like Slow Train and The Local. Both packed with other hopeless-looking college students and too much noise to think. These Obies disclose some of the best, but under-appreciated, places to cram your life away.

10. The Science Center Atrium

The popularity of this nerd haven makes it one of the more favored spots on campus for social butterflies to study. While not too noisy, the Atrium sports a chic modern aesthetic with a tall two-story design and huge open windows. The natural light makes the space much more open and welcoming than the cramped, jail-like walls of the library. The open plan and table configuration makes a chill place to talk with your friends while also fostering a welcoming studying experience. “I just like the atmosphere and the really tall roof,” Oberlin freshman Benjamin Balatbat said. “I like it especially when it’s sunny and all of the natural light just brightens the whole room.”

9. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center (AJLC) Atrium

If the atrium students start to form a major distraction when lab groups start congregating to flounder over reports, fear not. The AJLC provides the same atmosphere as the Science Center with open, two-story windows and comfortable couches and tables. Better yet, you get way more peace than the Science Center and—as it is the environmental science building— you can study near beautiful trees and a solar-powered fountain bringing mother nature into the room. “There’s this constant level of noise from the water running in there, like a river,” freshman Renz Torres said. “It’s also really warm because it’s kind of like a green house.”

8. Fourth Floor of Mudd Library

Although plenty of quiet corners to tackle your mountain of assignments seems desirable, many people find their claustrophobia kicks in from the closed walls and towers of bookshelves. For people who like to work in silence but still want the open ambiance of the Atrium, Oberlin senior Dyaami D’Orazio suggests making the climb to the fourth floor of Mudd. It’s worth the effort. “It’s quiet and there’s so many windows,” D’Orazio said. “You can see all of Oberlin up there.” As so little people bother making the climb, students who make their way up can snag one of the library’s famous “womb chairs”—colorful and dangerously comfortable bubble-shaped chairs—to cuddle up with their books and get work done in peace.

7. Asia House Library

Even with the quiet atmosphere, Mudd Library still lacks the old-school charm that other spaces have. If you’re looking for a charming yet unassuming space on campus, plant your butt in Asia House. Although Asia House is a dorm, you’ll find a whole new library with wooden furnishing and a cozy feel on the second floor. “It’s not quite a library because there’s barely any books,” sophomore Hannah Firth said. “But there’s an open space that makes you feel like you’re in Hogwarts because there’s chandeliers and cute book shelves and little nooks.”

6. The “Stacks” in the Conservatory Library

The renowned conservatory still made its way into a primarily liberal arts college. For the music students who can’t stand library chatter, the second floor “stacks” producces a silent haven. The stacks, referring to the many movable shelves filled with music scores, block almost any sound. “It’s really, really awesome because it’s so silent,” College-Conservatory double-degree freshman Andrew Santiago said. “You get to smell the wonderful aroma of old scores there.”

5. The Sky Bar

Sky Bar makes the list as a super secret gem. That’s right. It’s a café up in the clouds. Okay, maybe not quite, but make it your go-to spot to grab a coffee with a refreshingly modern and roomy vibe on the top floor. With the social setting and awesome people watching material, students love taking advantage of this nook. “I’m one of the few college students who goes there,” sophomore Meret Kammerling said. “I like to stand and dance when I work. The Sky Bar is perfect and open for watching people.”

4. The Oberlin Public Library

Need a refreshing trip away from the dorms and the dining halls? Sophomore Eliza Guinn revealed the joys of studying at the Oberlin Public Library. “Not many students go there,” Guinn said. “It’s nice because it’s not always totally silent like Mudd. It’s definitely more active. The Public Library also lets students meet new faces. It can be a great opportunity to not only know the campus community, but the people of the town as well.” Turns out libraries are for people who aren’t crying over finals, too. Who knew?

3. Cowhaus Creamery

Want a side of ice cream with your tear-stained note cards? Of course, who doesn’t? Cowhaus Creamery gets appreciated for the dairy more than the study opportunities, according to junior Miles Ginoza. He commends Cowhaus as an excellent off-campus place to work with the bright and generally quiet atmosphere. “Cowhaus is usually much chiller and less busy, meaning it is less noisy and thus easier to concentrate. The windows make the space feel more open and less claustrophobic. Also, how can you beat ice cream?” You can’t. It’s a fact.

2. Tappan Square

While some students prefer to study like they’re locked in a prison, some like to enjoy the beauty of that thing we ignore outside: Nature. Sophomore Kate Kingma commented on how she loves to study in Tappan Square, the 13-acre public park wedged between the campus and city of Oberlin. “The swings are pretty far from the street and the sidewalk so they’re pretty quiet and you feel pretty isolated. It’s so nice when the weather’s good.” Maybe you’ll get to see the trees explode with fiery color in the fall, the massive rocks that people paint on or Oberlin’s notorious albino squirrels. Better get there early to secure your bench swing.

1. The World War II Memorial Garden

You’ll find this beautiful oasis edged between the massive Finney Chapel and the Cox Administrative Building. The small yet quaint space came about to honor Oberlin alumni who died serving in World War II. It serves as another quiet outdoor study spot, especially for sophomore Oriene Shiel. “It’s a great place to read because there’s not a lot of people there. But sometimes there’s someone inside [of Finney] playing the organ and it’s really nice.”

Melissa Harris is an Oberlin College sophomore. She's an athlete, artist, pianist, writer, and proud biracial Filipino-Swedish American. She's a sucker for cute animals, warm cups of tea, and the soft sound of raindrops on windows.

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