Studying isn’t fun. Studying when you’re hungry is even worse, and you can only eat so many sandwiches from the Laughing Goat in Norlin Commons before swearing off them until finals are over.
Restaurants and coffee shops are perfect for an impromptu study session right around dinner time and when you just need to get out of Norlin, but with the large number of choices in Boulder, it can be hard to pick a place. Table size, crowd, noise level, hours, and menu can all be important factors in choosing your go-to place to study.
Here are some various Boulder locations the CU Independent tried for a study and snack session:
The tables at Red Robin are a little too small to effectively spread out if you have more than one textbook. When I went with two other people, we were cramped with two laptops and a few notebooks in one of the booths. The regular tables are a little bigger and better for studying, but only if you have a big enough group to convince the hostess to let you sit there. Our food came pretty quickly, meaning we didn’t have very long to study before eating. The lights were also dimmed a little for dinner, which can be hard on your eyes and distracting.
Red Robin seems more conducive to math problem sets or language worksheets than cramming for your next midterm or working on that group paper. If you are really craving one of Red Robin’s burgers or chicken salads, try to avoid booths and plan to stay a while after eating if you want to get a good chunk of studying done. And be aware – Red Robin doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi for customers.
Unless you plan on studying late at night on a weekend, Denny’s is decently empty. The tables at Denny’s are decently sized as it is, but the corner booths are spacious, making them perfect for spreading out your notes and books. The food typically takes a decent amount of time, providing enough time to do a few math problems or get through the first half of chapter six. Denny’s is also open 24 hours, which might be your deciding factor on where to study – hardly anything is open that late in Boulder.
Denny’s menu consists primarily of breakfast foods, which can be sticky and messy. If you get pancakes or waffles, be careful not to get syrup on your notes from sticky fingers, and if you get something that might fall apart, like a burrito, move your homework out of the line of fire before digging in. If Denny’s is your last resort for a late night study session or you just want bacon with your economics homework, try to grab one of the corner tables and avoid sticky or messy foods.
Because of the setup at Pei Wei, you should have enough time to get some studying in before your dinner arrives. Don’t come expecting to pull more than one book out of your backpack at once though. The tables aren’t meant to accommodate textbooks and spiral notebooks, especially not when they’re battling for room with Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken. Avoid bringing your laptop in order to save room. However, there is free wireless Internet available if you do decide to drag along your computer.
When I went to Pei Wei to work on online homework with a friend, we desperately needed an outlet for one of our laptops, but there weren’t any accessible. Pei Wei wasn’t built for hard at work college students, so bring your computers fully charged. If you choose Pei Wei, try to limit your group to two or three people. More than that will lead to more accidental elbowing and less actual studying. Grab the biggest table you can find, and try to avoid the corner booths.
If you want somewhere to eat and study with less of a restaurant setting, try Abo’s on the Hill. The tables are big enough to accommodate you and a friend or two, although they might be a little messy. It has a more chill atmosphere but it probably won’t be the quietest place to study, between the music and the students coming in and out.
Be warned though – if you go on Tuesday or Wednesday, you might find yourself at Poker and Trivia Night or Beer Pong Night. If live bluegrass helps you study though, check out Abo’s on a Thursday for Pick Night.
Buchanan’s is just across the street from campus and in the middle of the Hill, making it a prime location for studying. Its convenient location combined with its free wireless Internet, multiple outlets and a ‘pay as you print’ printer make it an obvious choice for students. Whether you’re stopping in after a class in Hale or meeting a friend to discuss your upcoming essay, you’ll appreciate Buchanan’s central location. However, most of the tables are small and it can be crowded. If you need some white noise to work, this might be the place to go, but you run the risk of becoming distracted by the students around you.
With its Fair Trade Organic coffee, The Cup offers a haven on Pearl Street for CU students looking to get out of Norlin. It’s open until 10 p.m., a blessing in Boulder, and there are multiple places for students to study. Again, the tables comfortably fit one or two students at the most; however, there is a back room with bigger tables and more space for students who need to do group work.. The café offers free wireless internet and outlets for dying computers or phones, making it a computer friendly study location.
Who hasn’t studied at a Starbucks at some point? The one on Broadway and University has enough room and seating for you to find a spot, and if you’re lucky, your group might be able to nab one of the bigger tables, perfect for group projects or collaborative studying. The location – close to campus and the Hill – and brand make it a popular spot for students. Because of this, space could be an issue, and even if you do find a seat, the chatter of CU students detoxing from their school days can be distracting. If you decide to go to Starbucks, bring headphones or plan to tune out the students catching up with friends.
There are five Brewing Market locations around Boulder, and two of them are close enough to campus for students to frequent. Monday through Friday, the Village Center location, down Folsom, closes at 8 p.m., and the Baseline and Broadway location closes at 11 p.m. The cafés are designed for students hard at work, and the Baseline location has free wireless Internet. The size of the tables seems better suited for studying alone or with just one other person.
Boulder has a great mix of student friendly spaces to study and to snack, but finding the perfect location can take time, so good luck with your studies and don’t forget to grab some grub between exams.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ainslee Mac Naughton at Ainslee.firstname.lastname@example.org.