undergrads make me scream
September 7, 2010 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Help me get away from the undergrads

I'm starting a master's program in San Diego (SDSU). The undergrads on campus are driving me crazy. I'm in my late 20's, and they all seem like teenagers to me. I try to read in the library, but they talk on their phones. I move 4 floors up, they come and chatter and eat. I don't have an office, and I'm on campus most of the day. Where on campus (or the surrounding area) is a quiet enough spot to read/relax? Where are the good study spots around town? (I have a car).
posted by anonymous to Education (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does your school have any specialized libraries apart from the main library? Here on my campus, the Main Library is the place you go to socialize while you study (or even hook up), while the special libraries housed in the Law school and science campus are generally super quiet and even have more extensive hours than the Main Library.
posted by scarykarrey at 9:08 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Does the library have any private reading rooms you can squat in? Maybe at a very large school this isn't feasible, but my library had (in addition to larger rooms that 10-15 people could hold a study group or club meetings in) small, single-occupancy rooms (basically closets with a desk) for A/V and special collections users. They drowned out sound pretty well. Hunt around or ask your librarian if you have any (you may have to "reserve" them, which is code for "hide in one until someone asks you to leave").
posted by phunniemee at 9:14 PM on September 7, 2010

If you're in a quiet-ish area of the library, ask them to be quiet. Seriously.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:16 PM on September 7, 2010 [11 favorites]

Depending on what your school is like, it may be fairly easy to find a disused classroom, lounge, or conference room. When I was an undergrad, I found the best and most comfortable small classroom on the campus, and did most of my nighttime studying there. Nobody knew about it, and on the off chance that they did, the door had a button lock on it. I didn't use it frequently, but it was great "for emergencies."

It even had a PA system to plug in my iPod for those bad nights when classical music helped me keep calm, amidst the crippling levels of stress (or for those really bad nights when the playlist eventually included Philip Glass and Michael Nyman)

Coincidentally, the NYT recently had an interesting piece on study habits.
posted by schmod at 9:22 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

On submission: What bluedaisy said.
posted by schmod at 9:24 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Welcome to life at a large state university. My university has a "graduate library" and an "undergraduate library" with the latter being mainly computers (hundreds of them) and social spaces and very few books. They've given up trying to make it function like a traditional "library." Check to see if you can check out a private carrel or study room from the library -- grad students often have priorities for this kind of thing. Also, check to see if there is a designated quiet study area. Librarians will often enforce the rules much more vigilantly in these areas. Finally, get some decent in-ear headphones (J-Buds J3 or Etymotics) and listen to music. Good luck!
posted by proj at 9:24 PM on September 7, 2010

SDSU Library website lists 2 available quiet study areas:
Quiet study areas are available on the first floor, off of the Donor Hall, and in the Library Addition second floor, LA2203, near the 24/7 Study Area Help Desk.
posted by gudrun at 9:42 PM on September 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

2nd what Bluedaisy said. I just graduated from SDSU a few years ago (older adult student here). Head up to the fourth floor and get into a back corner. I just made a loud "SSSHHHHHH" up there once in a while and that shut 'em up. There's also a couple of quiet rooms downstairs under the dome, but they get crowded quickly.

Aside from that, try to make peace w/ the chatter when you're in the right headspace (sounds weird, but it helps sometimes).
posted by Lukenlogs at 10:09 PM on September 7, 2010

The main library at university I went to had slightly creepy lockable small study carrels in very secluded areas deep in the stacks where officeless grad students would toil. There were other carrels here and there in isolated areas. Hopefully there are some hidden areas like that in your library.
posted by zsazsa at 10:12 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

If this is happening in a quiet area, the Library staff need to be informed. That is there job. Let them enforce the rules.
posted by mlis at 10:21 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Earplugs. Far less stress than having to remind an ever-flowing stream of students, for whom libraries have always been multi-media checkout places rather than monk-like scriptoria, to be considerate.
posted by zippy at 10:25 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh man, I am with you on this. Different large state university, but I have the same problems - studying for Ph.D. qualifying exams, love the library, difficulty with loud undergrads. A few thoughts: I regularly write emails to the library suggestion email address asking them to do something about this (mostly asking them to invest in some 'no cell phones in the library' signs), as even our 'quiet' areas can be quite noisy, although this semester things seem to have quieted down. Their advice was to tell 'security' (really undergrads who walk around enforcing no food rules and such) - the problem, as I see it, is that even when I've asked some kids to quiet down, they're only 5% of the problem, and doing a complete run around the reading room to ask everybody to shut up seems a little nuts, a time waster, and likely to not yield results. SO, here's what I do - if the reading rooms are noisy, I head into the stacks where there are study carrels. Maybe your library has some hidden study areas? It would surprise me if they didn't, but I could see it - our library seems so focused on group work at the expense of quiet study areas, I could see smaller libraries. I do use earplugs from time to time, but I find them uncomfortable for long periods of time. The magic solution for me was to download a white noise generator for my iphone (I prefer brown noise) - this has been THE solution. I love my brown noise. I invested in a decent pair of in-ear earbuds and I barely turn the thing up and it drowns out all noise, while still allowing in a slight amount of background noise if I want it. If you don't have a smart phone, you can buy white noise CDs (and probably find free MP3s) for your portable music player.
posted by drobot at 10:44 PM on September 7, 2010

Wow, humanities vs. sciences must be really different. I'm amazed that your department doesn't provide research space for their graduate students. It would cost so so so much less money for the space that a humanities graduate student required.

Have you hit up fellow students in your program/the grad sec for ideas?

The libraries on my campus has waiting lists for little offices (own doors, windows, desk, heat) in all of the libraries...
posted by porpoise at 10:46 PM on September 7, 2010

I'm amazed that your department doesn't provide research space for their graduate students
Heh. When I was a history PhD student even the postgraduate research fellows didn't necessarily get space. All the students used to use specialty libraries in the richer Departments which did provide their graduate students with resources, knowing all the desks'd be empty. Nothing as quiet as a geology or geography library in a country with a resources boom.

Call it primitive desk-space communism.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:24 PM on September 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Try the medical school library, if SDSU has one. The students there generally take their education more seriously than 'regular' students. Plus, at my university at least, the med school library was open 24 hours.

With that said, I generally feel that all people under the age of 26 should get off my metaphorical lawn. And pull their pants up.
posted by palacewalls at 12:41 AM on September 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

> they all seem like teenagers

I suspect some of them may actually be teenagers...
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:09 AM on September 8, 2010 [7 favorites]

Picking up on AmbroseChapel: This probably isn't much consolation now, but it is early in the semester ... when socializing seems to take priority over school for the "babies." Eventually, they'll have to actually shut up and study.

Another vote here for poking around classroom buildings for pockets of quiet space.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:58 AM on September 8, 2010

This is an excellent question for your librarians. Ask them what they recommend. They might offer some graduate study rooms, suggest particular floors, or launch a new campaign to create a quiet space. A satellite library might be perfect for your purposes. They might not know this is currently an issue.

Do any of your libraries have floors underground? That seems to promote some kind of instinctual urge to be quiet in some people.

Librarians aren't all about ssshing people, but they are about creating user spaces where you can get things done.
posted by adipocere at 4:56 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried the quiet study areas?

My undergraduate university had library stewards who kept the quiet areas quiet during busy periods - mostly they were graduate students. You could get such a job, and shush people whenever you wanted to.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:57 AM on September 8, 2010

I can't speak for San Diego, but some of my best study spots at my school are lounges and lobbies in certain academic buildings. Our Earth Sciences building has a hallway lined with comfy chairs and some classrooms. The big lecture halls aren't on that floor, and those classrooms are either empty or the doors are closed, so it's quiet. At most I'd only be interrupted every couple of hours, and briefly at that.

There are other odd corners here and there around campus (a corner of an office-lined hallway with some couches, that kind of thing). If you hunt around academic buildings you should be able to find something. Our med school library is also super quiet.
posted by pemberkins at 5:07 AM on September 8, 2010

I always preferred studying wherever the poor schmucks taking Organic Chemistry were - the engineering library, in my case. No one ever looked up enough to realize I was studying Russian and thus was an outsider. I also liked the area with musty dissertations - I think you should poke around on the fourth or fifth floor.

Also Nthing good headphones and patience.
posted by SMPA at 6:52 AM on September 8, 2010

I used to study in the laundry room, because the library had the problem of guys walking around, sitting down across from cute girls, and 'pretending' to study until they could somehow get your attention. Our laundry room wasn't pleasant, it had white noise, it smelled good, no one actually hung out down there to do their laundry (they'd fold in their room).
posted by micawber at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2010

At my large state university, (where the main library is still quiet) the place to go if you need to do serious studying is the Engineering Library.

Or you could check out the local library in your town - they often have quiet study rooms.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:36 AM on September 8, 2010

Nthing the nooks and crannies of science and engineering libraries as a place to go to get quiet studying done. These libraries are full of pre-meds or people who need to get into a good graduate program to have a career, and so they will all be stressing out over biochem, organic chemistry, physics, and math. When I was an undergrad I used to do all my studying in the science library, even for non-science courses. I went so far as to get a job there so I could get paid to study in the science library :)
posted by kataclysm at 7:51 AM on September 8, 2010

Keep looking for quieter parts of the library. They might exist. Ask more senior graduate students, who no doubt have faced this problem before. Ask the librarians!

It's possible that there are other universities nearby that have an arrangement with SDSU that allow you to use their libraries. (UCSD comes to mind, only because I don't know San Diego at all and they have "San Diego" in the name.) You might look into this, although that doesn't solve your problem unless they're close enough to go to in the middle of the day.

Finally, in general, the parts of the library where the books are tend to be quieter. Undergrads are scared of books.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:13 AM on September 8, 2010

If this is happening in a quiet area, the Library staff need to be informed. That is there job. Let them enforce the rules.

When folks tell me someone is being noisy, I say, "Did you ask them to be quiet?"

Seriously, folks, this is not something you need a librarian to troubleshoot. Man/woman up-grow some cojones/ovaries-insert your favorite get some confidence phrase here-and ask them to be quiet.

Do ask the librarians for tips on quiet spots of the library. Though your grad school classmates are a better choice for this advice. In any case, please don't ask the librarians to shush someone for yo. We don't actually like doing this.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:40 AM on September 8, 2010

For an opposing viewpoint, in our library if someone lets the Circ or Ref staff know someone is being noisy in a quiet area, we go over and enforce the rules without making the person reporting it feel bad for asking, and don't mind doing it.

It may be too late for you to get in this semester, but there might be special graduate rooms or offices in your library you can apply for. Ask one of the librarians if there are, and if so, when the deadline is for applying for one of them next semester.
posted by telophase at 9:57 AM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I put on headphones with a white noise generator in those circumstances.
posted by umbĂș at 1:05 PM on September 8, 2010

Personally, I have always found it easier to study at cafes than libraries, because people talking at a cafe' doesn't piss me off. I'm more distracted by being pissed off at people for talking in a library than by the talking itself.

posted by endless_forms at 1:38 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

endless_forms makes a good point; I also get more annoyed with people talking in libraries than talking in cafes. Last year when I was studying for quals, my last resort study spot was Starbucks.
posted by pemberkins at 3:35 PM on September 8, 2010

When I was in school, the smaller the room, the quieter it seemed to be. The cavernous undergrad library? Might as well be studying in the middle of State and Madison. The itsy-bitsy map/geography library? You could hear the old maps moldering next to you, but they also only had one or two tables, and if you didn't get there first, you were out of luck for a place to sit.

It took some investigative work to find these smaller libraries, because they weren't really advertised/labeled as such. They were more like resource rooms for those in a particular department, but were still public spaces. So a little footwork might turn up a few possibilities.

Also each residence hall had a "study room" that few residents took advantage of. Some were more quiet than others. Usually you had to be a resident of that hall to use the room, but nobody really checked or cared. Again - generally a physical small room, so anyone making noise was noticeable, and frowning at them was enough to get them to be quiet.

Also, the law library at my school was technically off-limits to anyone but law students, but I would study there occasionally anyway. Maybe there is such a place at your school? Or a faculty-only space where students are not allowed, but as long as you blend in, nobody really cares?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:57 PM on September 9, 2010


Your question, paraphrased: "I am older then the other kids, thus better. They do things that, in all honesty, I probably did, but now they're annoying. I don't want to be an adult with these adults and ask them to be quiet in the library. WAT DO."

Ask them to be quiet. If they aren't, complain. And stop thinking less of them for being younger. They can tell.
posted by Quadlex at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2010

« Older Section 508 requirements for screencasts?   |   Guy clothes online Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.