Sunday, December 12, 2010

It’s that time of the semester again: finals week. The week that everyone seems to dread, whether it be the end to an easy semester, the stress of having to study for an exam in almost every class, or just the fact that you must now walk to class at some undesirable time for a test you didn’t really study for… Whatever the reason, there are a few simple ways to make this final week of classes and exams more enjoyable and productive. 

For starters, and despite what you may do throughout the rest of the school year, get plenty of sleep. Don’t stay up until the early hours of morning. Regardless of whether you’re truly studying or not, nothing is going to stick as well as it would if you got plenty of sleep and woke up at a decent time the next morning. And just because you don’t have anything to do until later in the day doesn’t mean you should sleep until noon. Get up at a reasonable time and do something productive or mind-stimulating to help get yourself ready and focus on the exam.

Breakfast is the meal that seems to have been removed from every college student's menu since the absence of a personal chef (Mom) makes this chore so inconvenient when class starts mere minutes after you finally roll out of bed. Luckily for those that have nightmares about cooking, there are quick and easy options that will still allow you to run (literally) to class while getting that essential nutrient jump start. I recommend cereal as it has proven to be gentle on the stomach in the early hours, while keeping you plenty satisfied until lunch. But eggs, oatmeal, bagels and all those other tasty options are never a bad investment either.

Studying, that thing everyone claims to be doing at the library during finals week. I’ll kill two birds with one stone for this topic. Personally, going to the library to study is a decent idea, if you:
  • Go alone (unless it is a group project or you need legitimate help)
  • Don’t have Facebook lurking somewhere on your task bar
  • Don’t sit next to a ground floor window, or one overlooking sidewalks or roadways 
  • Leave your phone on silent and in your book bag
But let’s think about the last time you walked into Wells Library, how many people go there to study (hundreds), who are they there with (friends), what do they all seem to be doing when you walk by (perusing facebook), and what always seems to be missing (academic books and thought processes)… If you can manage to find a spot where you aren’t talking, texting, “people watching” or surfing (the web of course), then the Library really isn’t a bad investment of your time. But if all these potential “traps” seem to be calling your name, go someplace more unique. Nearly all academic buildings are sparsely populated during finals week, but still have open labs and libraries that aren’t being used for class any longer.

Whatever you do, take advantage of the various resources across campus to study, relax and hopefully survive (academically) throughout finals week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The West Tower of Wells Library

The West Tower of the Wells Library, probably the only place an undergraduate student will ever explore during their time at IU. While it is located inside of the main library at IU, the West Tower really doesn’t contain that many books or research material. Although, what it lacks in books it more than makes up for in technology, group and individual resources and study areas. 

Beginning on the first floor of the West Tower is what is known as the Information Commons. This entire floor is where students have access to numerous black and white printer stations, group and individual computer terminals, two large format, color plotters, a color laser printer, information clusters for large groups or classes and the UITS Help Desk. All of the resources on this floor are available to all IU students at little or no cost.

The second floor is what I consider to be a quiet study extension of the Information Commons area. This floor prohibits cell phone use, loud talking, group work and any other noise generating activities. Some reading/research materials are available on this floor, as well as individual computer workstations, couches, work tables with individual power outlets, and a print release station and printer.
The third floor is also dedicated as a quiet study floor for individual work. In addition to all the features of the second floor, this floor is also home to Writing Tutorial Services (WTS). WTS offers free planning and revision assistance to IU students on writing assignments and other written coursework. Students must usually schedule an appointment with WTS as many students utilize this resource.
Moving on to the fourth floor, students will find an enormous sea of desk clusters that are intended for group work. Although more private stations are available for presentation practice or skype interviews, these facilities must be requested/reserved and are often in use throughout the day. Regardless, plenty of space is available on this floor for any size group with no noise restrictions.

Finally, the fifth floor of the West Tower is a smaller version of the fourth, with large group computer workstations. Large tables and wide screen monitors make this the perfect floor for groups working on PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets or just writing a group research paper. No reservations can be made for these workstations, but there is almost always an available station. A printer and UITS technology consultant are also available at all times.

So if you haven’t already explored the West Tower, now is the perfect time. With the semester coming to a close and finals just around the corner, the right place to study, print and collaborate on your final project(s) may just be at the Library?