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It might have been difficult to find the perfect study spot on campus during finals season, but how about during a global pandemic? For students living either on or off campus, it can be exhausting to search for a place to sit and work with the physical distancing guidelines. Spectrum’s got you covered with tips on where to study around campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.


It’s obvious, we know, but we want to ensure that you haven’t forgotten about them just yet! Libraries are the go-to location for sitting down and grinding out that University Writing paper. However, with COVID-19 guidelines in place to reduce capacity in all indoor locations, getting a desk is more difficult than just walking in and miserably looking around. Instead, head over to the Columbia University Libraries website to reserve a study seat in one of the six available libraries for up to four hours. If you’re looking to attend a Zoom class, note that only Butler 209, Lehman 315, Lehman 329A, and all open floors in the Business and Economics Library allow video conferencing.


Speaking of walking in and miserably looking around, many students have opted to work in open classrooms on campus. Buildings like Mudd, Schermerhorn, Kent, Hamilton, Havemeyer, and Chandler all have open classrooms that you can sit and work in.Other buildings might be closed after-hours or during the weekend, so exploring campus for an open building can either be an adventure or misery in the cold.

If you are looking for a room during class hours, it’s important to keep in mind that some courses are operating in-person, so not all rooms will be available. To avoid looking into each classroom, search up the classroom you’re looking for through the Registration tab on Columbia Student Services Online. There, you will be able to see a list of each room’s schedule to avoid the awkward interaction of interrupting a professor giving a lecture.


While it might be too cold for now, once the weather starts warming up, there will be plenty of viable places to work outside in Riverside Park, Morningside Park, or Central Park. Sit down on a bench and crank out your papers while enjoying the views of urban nature. If you are easily distracted, this option might not be for you, as people-watching can be much more interesting than whatever Immanuel Kant has to say about ethics.

Heated tents

If you haven’t noticed the enormous tents near John Jay Hall, Furnald Hall, East Campus, and Dodge Hall, please go see an eye doctor. For those who have, these tents can be the perfect place to get out of your room to eat or work while staying safe and protected from the frigid New York air. Just remember to keep your distance!


While indoor dining in New York City opened on Feb. 12 with 25 percent capacity, we wouldn’t recommend loitering at a table after you’re done eating to work. Instead, there are plenty of cafés with outdoor seating more geared toward studying. Head over to The Hungarian Pastry Shop on a lazy Sunday morning to enjoy your croissant and coffee (with free refills!) to do your Literature Humanities readings.


It can be disheartening to stay in your dorm for too long, but going outside might not be the best option for you either. If you’re living on campus, we recommend checking out the lounges in your building for a change of scenery. Several dorms like Broadway and Hartley have top-floor study lounges with beautiful views to combat that stuck-inside feeling. If you don’t have one of those, chances are your floor itself will have a lounge. Finally, if you need a study buddy, the downstairs Wien lounge is open to anyone, as you don’t have to swipe your Columbia ID to enter.

It can be beneficial to switch things up to help you focus while working. Your room may be cozy, but it can easily become a site for distraction. Hopefully, these tips can help you stay focused, warm, and COVID-19 safe. With midterms coming up, Spectrum wishes you good luck with studying!

Deputy Editor Ariana Novo can’t believe she would ever miss Butler stacks, but times are tough. She can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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