Students Find Just the Right Study Spaces and Gathering Places

Students studying in contemporary Millikan lounge area

The qualities of a perfect study space can shift with a mood, or with the rapidly dwindling hours until a paper is due.

Solitude or a chance to bump into friends? Bright light or warm light? A desk, a table or a comfy couch? 

“Since my first year, I’ve hardly studied in my room,” says Tania Partida ’19. “I’ve always sought different places, and it’s changed every year.”

Beyond obvious spots such as Honnold/Mudd Library and the Coop Fountain – sure, it can get loud, but you can order a rice bowl or a burger there – the Pomona College campus has an array of places that draw students to work, read and study.

The sleek contemporary spaces of the 24-hour Millikan Laboratory building attract many students – not only to the first-floor Physics Lounge and the second-floor Math Lounge – but also to open classrooms where students can work in groups or alone. The ITS Lab in the Cowart Information Technology Building, prized for its access to printers, is another round-the-clock spot.

Almost everyone seems to have a favorite place or two.

“I like the lounge on the ground floor of Seaver Biology,” says Laura Haetzel ’19, referring to a room that is like a glass box, complete with window seats that seem as wide as twin beds. “It makes me feel not stressed, like the library, because it’s so open,” she says.

Yearning for something more traditional? There’s the small English Department library in Crookshank Hall. It’s only open during the daytime and closed at lunch, but the floor-to-ceiling wooden bookcases, library ladder and the London Review of Books hung on an old-fashioned newspaper rod provide a certain ambience.

For those looking for something different, there’s the Hive, aka the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity, a space for maker activities of all sorts in the Seeley G. Mudd Building. 

“It’s nice to take study breaks at the Hive because you can just make things,” says Noor Dhingra ’20.

With quirky rooms like the Vault, with its original heavy metal door, the Hive welcomes people to its nooks and crannies. There’s even a study space tucked away beneath the stairway as you enter the building, accessorized with a lamp and bean bags.

“It’s like the Harry Potter room, the cupboard under the stairs,” Dhingra says.

Sometimes it’s not so much the building or the room itself but the community that gathers there. The Smith Campus Center (SCC) houses the sofa-filled Living Room (complete with fireplace) on the main floor, but other unexpected study spaces have emerged in the large, contemporary student center that was designed with a two-story atrium and soaring arches to blend with Pomona’s historic buildings. 

On Wednesday nights, the SCC’s Sagehen Café – frequented mostly by faculty, staff and prospective students during the day – becomes Milk and Honey, a popular spot for boba tea run by students.

“The coffee shop vibes at Milk and Honey are great for studying or catching up with friends, and the boba is delicious,” says Abby Lewis ’19. 

Varshika Kanthadai ’22, taking a study break with a friend from Scripps one night, says she appreciates the ambience too. “It’s nice with the music. I just really like it.”

Created last year by Samuel Lin ’20 and Julia Wang HMC ’20, Milk and Honey operates through the Coop Fountain and the Associated Students of Pomona College. With Lin studying abroad this fall, he asked Ethan Ong ’21 to keep the shop alive.

“Most people say it’s generally a lot better than the boba in the village, and you can’t beat the convenience,” Ong says.

On the second floor of the SCC are other spaces where small groups gather. That includes the Nest, a small room marked by a sign that says Pomona Quest that has evolved into the home of the FLI club, an acronym for First-generation, Low Income.

“I think the history of this space is really important,” says Partida. “I’m a senior, so when I came here as a first-year, this didn’t exist. It was the labor of students who put in the time and energy to ask the administration for a space for first-generation and low-income students.”

All students are welcome at the Nest, and it has become a place that Partida says is “like my community.”

“I feel comfortable coming here.” 

Nicely furnished and stocked with snacks, it has a homey feel.

“It’s just an amalgamation of stress and friendship and all the schoolwork you have, all at once,” says Israel Teru ’19. “When you’re here at midnight or 1 a.m., you do your homework, and then you laugh with a friend for 30 minutes, and then you’re back at it.”

Elsewhere on SCC’s second floor is another perhaps unexpected hangout, the Quantitative Skills Center. Students can seek help there from a small staff and a group of peer tutors on such subjects as math, physics, chemistry and economics. On nights and weekends, it is run by student office assistants that include Marie Tano ’21.

“It has a comfort level,” Tano says. “The QSC is great because it’s an easier way to get more help, because other students are teaching you. You don’t feel dumb when you’re asking a question. You know they used to be in your shoes.

“I’ll come here sometimes and the rooms are booked, but there are three or four people sitting on couches or at the tables studying, and then there are the snacks – chips, cookies, granola bars. There’s coffee. There’s water. There’s a bathroom right there. Everything you need, in one spot.”

Easy access to snacks, restrooms and plentiful electrical outlets are among the most important criteria of a study space, it seems. All that, and the perpetual quest for the plushest couches on campus. For that, the Neuroscience Lounge on the top floor of Lincoln Hall may be unsurpassed. How comfy is it? 

Check the sign on the nearby doors: “Please do not stay overnight in the third floor lounge area.”