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Battle of the Floors: A Glimpse Into Study Preferences at UofSC

By: Genevieve Robinson

It comes as no surprise that studying is one of the main ways that students fill their time here at UofSC. Whether it be cramming for a final, putting the finishing touches on an essay, or getting ahead on assignments for next week, students can be found studying at almost any hour of the day. While every student will study during their time in college, few will do it the same way. Each student has a unique set of aptitudes and preferences that determine their strategies for memorizing course material and finishing assignments. Students also vary in their preference for study location.

Thomas Cooper Library is a unique and popular study location because it accommodates numerous preferences and provides students with a diverse range of environments to accomplish work in. The floors of the library become quieter as they descend, each providing students with a slightly different layout and feel. If you ask any student on campus which floor of the library they prefer to study on, they will almost always respond passionately with a specific floor and the reasons why they favor it.

This article revolves around input from six UofSC students who each prefer to study on a different floor of Thomas Cooper Library. Each student was interviewed briefly and asked about their study habits in order to gain a better understanding of the different studying strategies that exist on campus. With that, let the battle of the floors begin!

The Main Floor

Upon walking into the library, you are immediately greeted by the hushed bustle of the main floor. Large tables for group study fill the floor, students chat softly with one another, and the scent of fresh coffee fills the air. Many students are fond of the main floor’s casual and relatively laid-back atmosphere. Early childhood education major Olivia Streidl describes her preference for the main floor by stating, “I like that it’s the busiest floor. I like being around people and it’s not really in a social capacity. You can just be in other peoples’ presence…and have that white noise of not being by yourself.” When discussing her study habits, Olivia also said that she isn’t easily distracted from her work, likes to switch up her tasks from time to time, and that she prefers to study with other people. With this in mind, it is easy to see why she prefers the main floor. For students who enjoy company while studying and who are not easily distracted, the main floor is a clear winner.


Immediately above the main floor is the mezzanine. Characterized by large windows overlooking a fountain, a balcony, and cafe-like seating, the mezzanine is a favorite spot for many students. Biochemistry and molecular biology major Sarah Hobson enjoys studying on the mezzanine because of the view and the atmosphere that it provides. Sarah likes to take breaks while studying and enjoys looking out through the windows while resting between assignments and finds it “really peaceful.” She states “I thrive off having background noise” and enjoys seeing and hearing the community while studying. The mezzanine and the main floor in particular cater to students like Sarah and Olivia who enjoy studying with company and taking intermittent breaks.

4th Floor

The last talking floor is the 4th floor which makes it unique because it is quieter than the upper floors but also provides ample space for group and dynamic study. Neuroscience major Danielle Raynor prefers the noise level of this floor because “it’s quiet but there’s still a little bit of murmuring. If it’s too quiet, I’ll get uncomfortable.” She also appreciates the

comfortable layout of the floor and ample supply of whiteboards for drawing out diagrams and graphic organizers. She is very hands-on with her study and finds it helpful to visualize concepts and interact with her notes by writing questions in the margins. The fourth floor seems to be a happy medium for students who appreciate some degree of activity while they study but enjoy quieter and more focused spaces.

3rd Floor

The first (and in many students’ perception, the least intimidating) quiet floor is the 3rd floor. The wooden cubicle-like furniture is in stark contrast to the almost space-age furnishing on the 4th floor. Statistics major Nate Ladimir spoke about his love for libraries as a child. He feels as though the bottom three floors of the library most closely resemble the traditional libraries he grew up with and that they are “not as modernized” as other floors. Nate also spoke about how he can get distracted easily and prefers to study alone. Students with these preferences appreciate the focused environment that the 3rd floor provides.

2nd Floor

Continuing the descent, the next quiet floor is the 2nd floor. Though not much different in appearance than the other quiet floors, there are several reasons why students prefer this one in particular. When describing why she prefers the 2nd floor, Neuroscience major Morgan Harper explained that the first floor is “too intensely silent” and that “the wifi is not the best.” She also stated that “the third floor is always really crowded” since it’s the first available quiet floor. She likes to “stick to the happy medium…because the wifi is generally

functioning and it’s usually free of people.” Morgan prefers to study alone in variable increments of time and has found it most helpful to quiz herself with flashcards. The 2nd floor provides her with the space and quiet required to employ her study methods successfully.

1st Floor

The final and most notorious floor of the library is the 1st floor. Many students avoid this

floor entirely because of how thick the silence is, but other students find it easiest to maintain a focused academic mindset in this environment. International business major Nicholas Rinderle explains that he needs “complete silence” in order to study without getting distracted. He even has to hide his AirPods and says “as much as I love music, it doesn’t work for me when I’m studying.” He also prefers to block out an hour for each subject that he is studying and studies in longer increments of time. The first floor is reliable when it comes to providing him, and other students with similar studying styles, with a silent environment where it is easy to focus for extended periods of time.

My Takeaways

The many floors of Thomas Cooper library are reflective of the many unique study styles that are present at UofSC. The upper levels cater to students who prefer to study with background noise, move around, take breaks, and collaborate with others. The lower levels appeal more to students who like studying in silence for longer periods of time and who enjoy employing self-testing strategies to help master course material. As for which floor is the best, there is no universal answer since each floor caters to students’ needs differently. That being said, next time you go to the library, pay attention to the different studying strategies being used around you. You may be able to find a new technique that works for you!

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