The DEFINITIVE Caltech Study Spots Ranking
If you are a frequent reader of the Caltech Admissions Blog, you might have seen many people comment on their favorite study spot at Caltech. I respect their opinions, but I think their opinions are wrong. So, I decided to roll up my sleeves and get studying!
For the purposes of this investigation I look at three important criteria: Environment, Comfort, and Ease of Access. Environment means what type of “vibe” the spot gives off, it’s a less well-defined term and more of a feeling that the location exudes. It will become more apparent once we reach examples. Comfort is what it sounds like, the comfort of the location. Ease of Access means less about how easy it is to reach there, but whether any studying can happen in the first place (think lighting, wall outlets, etc.). The sum of these three rankings will give us our total out of 30.
Moore Courtyard, Bechtel Study Rooms, Avery Conference Room, Page Lounge
5. Outside Red Door
Ease of Access: 5
Simply put, the classic outdoor study space at Caltech. The environment is great, the hustle and bustle of people allow you to get distracted if necessary, but being in public also allows you to focus and work extremely well. It’s the go-to place for meeting others to work on sets, and the weather in spring around 11 am is impeccable. The comfort can vary. Because of weather conditions and how Red Door is arranged, the lack of ventilation means the hot weather feels even hotter. But, on a nice spring day, there is nothing better. However, there is one thing dragging down this study spot: Ease of Access. Simply put, there are only 4 outlets along the side of Red Door, making studying nearly impossible if not near one of these spots. For that, I have to give it a 5, dragging this locale from the top 3 to barely making it into the top 5.
4. Moore Subbasement
Ease of Access: 10
As an Electrical Engineering major, my love and hate for the Moore Subbasement borders on Stockholm Syndrome. However, there are certain undeniable facts: The Moore subbasement is well equipped and can allow for deep work. The environment is perfect for finishing up a project or assignment, and with many fellow students also there, you can find someone to help you 24/7. However, something seriously lacking in Moore…the comfort. The chairs are subpar, the temperature never fits perfectly, the lack of natural lighting is depressing, and something about being next to circuits all day/night can get tiring. But, Moore is possibly the best place on campus for studying amenities. Whiteboards abound throughout the subbasement, printers and computers are always at the ready, and the wifi connection is excellent. It’s the supreme amenity studying experience with some slight drawbacks.
3. Broad Cafe
Ease of Access: 5
As a study spot, Broad is Red Door, but better in one crucial way. It still is subpar in terms of outlets and you can always see friends, but the temperature is far superior. Because of its strategic location across from the Chen Neuroscience Building, Broad, Beckman, and the Bechtel parking lot, an excellent wind tunnel effect occurs. Because of this, a breeze is nearly always present, making the temperature agreeable more than Red Door.
Ease of Access: 9
The SAC, or Student Activities Center, is located directly under the South Houses. Some may wonder why I put it on here so high, but there is something special about the SAC as a study spot: its quietness. I take all my finals here for a reason, it’s quiet and full of places to work. It also has a Piano room to jam out in between exams! However, this location comes with a serious drawback…it’s very uncomfortable. It’s again underground with no natural lighting, but because of its age, it suffers from less comfort than Moore. A serious tradeoff, but the best location on campus for hardcore exams.
- Top Floor of Caltech Hall
Ease of Access: 10
Take a walk around campus and you’ll inevitably find yourself staring up at Caltech Hall. Entering through the building, you feel the immense weight of the locale. In fact, it was near here that Robert Milikan conducted his famous Oil Drop Experiment. It’s also where many house traditions take place: from Dabney’s Pumpkin Drop to Lloyd Lights. Taking the elevator up, you are greeted by the startling view of the Pasadena area and the beautiful mountains in the background. Quiet and serene, one feels peaceful at the top of this building, a quiet satisfaction with peering into the depths of scientific knowledge. Stocked full of amenities, this is the supreme study spot on campus, one that is sadly overlooked.
At the end of the day, you might wonder whether to trust these rankings, or whether other rankings compiled by other students may better fit your taste. The answer is that all are valid, each person has their likes and dislikes for work (I for one, hate working in my room). The greatest rankings are ones you create for yourself, and I encourage everyone who becomes a student here to venture out! Explore the campus and the area. It’s a large world out there, and there’s always something new to discover.