The best places to study, both on and off campus

By Emily Johnson

(Collegian File Photo)
(Collegian File Photo)

With a consistent music playlist and mug of black coffee, Rao’s Coffee downtown is a taste of home for University of Massachusetts sophomore Sam Liebich when he wants to study.

Liebich is a chemical engineering major who expects 30 hours worth of studying in anticipation for finals for classes like Organic Chemistry II and Differential Equations. He loves many aspects of Rao’s, mainly the studious atmosphere where many people are busily working away at tables close to one and other.  Liebich emphasizes that the quality of the coffee makes him “more willing to jump into a pile of work.”

According to its website, Rao’s is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., has another location in Northampton and serves a selection of specialty drinks like teas, espresso, chai and ice-blended drinks and an assortment of sandwiches, soups and pastries.

Nearby Amherst Coffee is another location for students who prioritize coffee when getting their work done. Amherst Coffee has a more limited menu than Rao’s, but turns into a bar at night with a selection of wine, whiskeys and spirits.  It is open 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

Beyond Amherst, The Roost in downtown Northampton is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyda

y. The shop carries a complete menu of breakfast, lunch, desserts, beer, wine, coffee and fruity smoothies like the “Berry Manilow” and the “Jimmy Buffet.” Students can cover a day’s worth of work in one spot or change up their scenery by moving to Northampton’s public Forbes Library that is within walking distance.

Amherst Coffee’s counterpart, Northampton Coffee is another option, open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Woodstar Café is a family-owned bakery, sandwich shop and espresso bar. It is a quick walk from the B43 bus stop that runs from UMass to Northampton. Woodstar is known for not using preservatives or trans fats, but instead using local, organic foods that would attract those that combine studying with a healthier meal.

Off-campus options offer a sometimes needed separation from school, but often come with the price of commotion from other people at local coffee shops. Students who want to study alone can find refuge in certain locations on campus as well, like the treehouses on the second floor of the Integrated Science Building and the Science and Engineering Library in the Lederle Graduate Research Center.

Conor Ursuliak, a sophomore studying kinesiology, plans to do his studying on campus at the Durfee Conservatory and Garden, which, he said, “is warm and peaceful even during the winter.” There, he finds little distraction, because most students do their studying elsewhere.

Many find that during exams week, studying in the dorms is quiet, because most have crowded other locations on campus to study. Sophomore Nicole Ellis plans to study for her advanced German and Speech Sounds and Structure classes entirely in her dorm room at Butterfield Hall. She anticipates it will take over 15 hours.

The more traditional on-campus locations include the floors of the library. There are several designated quiet floors, the Writing Commons with writing tutor services, the Learning Resource Center with tutoring services, group study areas and comfy chairs on certain floors.  For many, it is about finding a special nook to cram in a semester’s worth of material.

Emily Johnson can be reached at [email protected]