Two students studying together in a public space

Justine Written by Justine (she/her), student

If you're like me and need a change of scenery when you're studying to stay motivated, you might be wondering where some good places to study are.

If I had a dollar for every assignment I've completed or every time I’ve studied... well that could be a math equation, and I’ll leave that for you to figure out during your next test. Being in university I’ve quickly learned what does and does not work for me in terms of the best ways to study, and I'm always finding new ways to change my approach. What environment is best for studying? Do I work well in cafés, in the library, or even outside?

The best way to study is unique to everyone. Sometimes the type of work you're doing is better suited to a different location. Sometimes when you find one spot that works well for you, it’s hard to branch out and try something new. So, here are five locations you can try next time you put an assignment off for far too long or have a midterm to cram for. Hopefully, this will help you find the best way (and place) to study!

1. The library

Whether you’re in high school or university, a library is always a great choice for studying. Make use of your local library or the libraries on your campus. These are great places to study since they’re quiet, have all the resources you need (coffee, food, and librarians who are always ready to help), and are great places with reliable Wi-Fi.

Students studying in the Dana Porter library

I’m someone who likes to work in silence, so the library gives me the space to work distraction-free. Some libraries have quiet areas and group spaces so they are great spots for everyone. They also help give me motivation when I see everyone working hard!

I like to study around campus exploring new locations. Dana Porter and Modern Languages are a go-to spot. I study best when I break tasks up from easiest to hardest and time block.

Nicole (she/her), Communication Studies student

The Davis Centre and the Dana Porter library are two great places on campus to study. Individual study spots or bookable study rooms with whiteboards are available. Both of these buildings have something for everyone and plenty of seats (Dana Porter has 10 floors!).

2. Coffee shops

If you’re not like me and like to work around people, coffee shops are a great option. I do love studying here with friends since we can discuss work and grab something to eat. Seeing other people can help keep yourself accountable, and the background noise helps some students stay focused. It’s also a huge bonus that you have food and drinks on hand for long study sessions. Not to mention, working in a coffee shop makes you more approachable, and might even be a way for you to meet new people.

My local coffee shop is where I enjoy studying the most. Being in a relaxing environment with minimal distractions allows me to feel productive, and it provides easy access to caffeine.

Samantha (she/her), Environment, Resources and Sustainability student

My favourite coffee shops on campus are The Funcken Café in St. Jerome's (which has the best bagels) and one of two Starbucks on campus in the Health Expansion building. If staying on campus isn’t your thing, a great place to study in Waterloo is William’s Fresh Cafe in the University Shops Plaza (just minutes away from campus) as it always has lots of spots to sit and work, both alone or in a group.

3. Outside

When the weather is nice, the last thing you probably want to do is work (and I feel the same), but you know it still has to get done — which is why you can compromise and study outside! Being outside in the sun will drastically improve your mood, which can help you retain more information or produce papers that are so good you impress your professor and get that perfect grade you deserve.

Group of students studying outside on a bench in the Arts Quad

Around campus, there are outdoor picnic tables everywhere for you to find and larger spaces that have benches, chairs, and tables. My personal preference is the Arts Quad. I’m always running into friends there, plus you can play ping pong (when your assignments are done).

One stop away on the LRT (Light Rail Transit) is Waterloo Park, you can go for a stroll to clear your head, then find a spot and work away. It’s right next to Uptown Waterloo, which is a great place to study too with neat places to check out. Some of my personal favourites are Seven Shores Community Café, Princess Café, and the patio at Starbucks.

4. Public spaces

Make use of the location you’re in, if staying on campus isn’t your thing, you have the city to help you out. With two universities and a college in the same city, Waterloo is home to thousands of students, so, there are tons of options. During the warmer months the Waterloo public square in Uptown has picnic tables or patio seating in restaurants and cafés. If you’re not in Waterloo, maybe your city has similar options to explore. It’s a great way to get your studying in and explore the area a bit more!

Back on campus, spots other than the library and coffee shops are lounges and student spaces, these give you a whole new study environment to try. The Student Life Centre (SLC) has comfy chairs, tables, and again, anything you need to have a productive time like snacks, drinks, and space to move around. If you need a change of scenery, go for a walk around campus and you’ll likely find tables here and there. The tables by the window in the Quantum Nano Centre (QNC) are my favourite, but they do fill up quickly, so plan accordingly!

I love to study in MC lecture rooms and CMH Great Hall too!

Charlotte (she/her), MATH/FARM Joint Statistics major student

The mood in these spaces are less predictable and they can go from vacant and quiet to busy and noisy in a matter of hours. But again, the sound of voices and movement isn’t always a bad thing and may help you stay focused. These also make for great group study spaces, since being noisy isn’t typically an issue in these spaces. Another great spot to study is empty classrooms, or even better, the room where your test is going to be held — this is a great way to improve your recall when it’s test time!

5. At home

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get out the door. It might be rainy, or cold, or you’re tired, but these are no excuses not to study. This may seem like an obvious tip, but stay home, put your slippers on and study there — just make sure you’re not studying in bed!

Student studying on their bed

There you have it, five places to study. Studying is a key part of being a student, and in the right environment, it can be an enjoyable experience. You just need to be open-minded when it comes to new spaces. And if working in one spot doesn’t work for you, try switching it up and soon enough, you’ll find your ideal place to study. Now, go back to the studying you’ve put off... or, if you want to procrastinate a little longer, check out our video of best places to study on campus as an Arts student!


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