The sacred nature of study spots


When Kayla Currier, a master’s student studying rehabilitation counseling, has homework to do or a test to prepare for, she can typically be found in the Education Center sitting at her usual table by the elevators.

“My classes are all in that building,” Currier says. “It’s also kind of secluded from the other tables around that area so it’s just a comfortable place.”

Ryan Green, a junior studying communications, likes to take his homework to the back tables of the Hub, always making sure to nab a seat next to an electric outlet.

“I have almost everywhere in the Hub mapped out where there’s a wall outlet because I like to be able to charge my phone and my laptop at the same time,” Green says.

The fifth booth closest to the windows in the Merrill Cazier Library is where Ryan Baca, a sophomore studying business administration, sets up shop to do his homework.

“I love the booths!” Baca says.

Though these three students are all enrolled in different programs, are at different points in their education and like to study in different places they have one thing in common; all of them have experienced study spot theft.

No one likes it when their study spot gets stolen, Green says.

“I get very aggravated when someone is in my spot,” he says. “I mean, they have every right as I do to sit there but for some reason I like to think that it’s my spot so I get a little bugged when they take it.”

Currier says it makes her feel a little anxious, but she reminds herself that it’s just a spot at the same time.

Baca says he just moves on to sit somewhere else.

“I think it’s fine honestly,” he says. “Like at first I’m like “dang my spot’s gone” but then I just find another spot, I don’t ever kick them out.”

Whether study spot theft is aggravating or just mildly irritating, most Utah State University students usually cope with the situation by simply finding another place to sit. Confrontation over a study spot rarely happens at Utah State, says Carson Wikstrom, an undeclared freshman.

“I’ve never had someone ask me to move because I’m in their spot,” he says. “I’ve never asked anyone to move either, I’m too nice.”

While they don’t confront the people in their favorite spots, some students might hover until it opens up.

“If it’s a study spot, I will sit there and watch them until they leave,” says Green. “But if it’s in the classroom I just usually find somewhere to sit that’s close but I never really confront them.”

Other people avoid study spot theft all together by picking a more private place to do their homework.

Brayden Loosle, a freshman studying business administration, says he likes to study at home because it is “very private.”

Studying at home makes it easier to focus away from distractions from other people, said Jed Oyler, a freshman animal dairy veterinary science major.

However, spot theft is not just an issue for students who study on campus, spot theft also occurs in the classroom.

“It’s happened to me about five times this semester,” says Hannah Richards, a freshman studying early childhood education. “I kind of get mad if someone steals my spot, I don’t say anything but I do get mad.”

“In my English class sometimes people mix around and move to different spots,”  Olyer says. “then I’m thrown off and I’m like crap where do I go. It’s so weird.”

Loosle says he often picks a spot in a class based on where his friends are sitting. When that spot gets taken, it is frustrating which is why he thinks students should “pick a spot and stick with it the entire semester.”

“In an ideal world I hope other students would be just as observant as I am and understand that this is where I sit,” Green says. “I’m a creature of habit and it makes me feel comfortable to sit in the same spot.”

Many students expressed similar feelings, stating they like to sit in the same place every class period and become frustrated when that spot is taken.

This is a common trait among many students, according to a study done by Marco Costa at the University of Bologna in Italy. It was found that “students showed strong attachments to specific areas of a lecture hall; on average, each student made use of just 2.4% to 2.7% of the seating area.”

So why are USU college students so attached to specific spots in the classroom?

“It’s a habit,” says Rob Ercanerack a sophomore Pre-Med major. “It’s just something you’re used to. I know there’s a lot of psychological things that have to do with it but it’s just easier.”

Currier agrees.

“I think humans are creatures of habit,” he says, “and that spot is where I feel productive. I am comfortable in that spot, I can focus on my homework in that spot so I just think it’s my routine.”

Everyone has a daily routine, which makes it hard for people to get out of their comfort zone,  Oyler says.

While there may be different psychological factors to this issue, Richards says that she picks her spot in the classroom based on the quality of her learning.

“For me, it’s hard to see so I usually sit up in the front,” she says. “One class I have is in this big auditorium so I get there first to make sure I have a spot in the front to make sure I can see the teacher and see the board. She also does experiments up in the front so when you’re sitting up there you can see it better than if you’re sitting in the back.”

Miranda Hone, a junior studying biochemistry, says she thinks people get attached to spots in the class based off of what they want to get out of that class.

“Some people sit close to the door so they can leave fast, some people sit close to the front so they can learn,” she says.

Whatever the reason students attach themselves to specific spots, whether it be psychological or educational, spot theft is something most students will probably deal with during their college experience.

It can be especially difficult to be flexible with spot theft during stressful moments like tests or finals, Currier says.

“When you want to take a test in class you want to sit in the seat that you’ve sat in all semester.” she says.

Wikstrom agrees, saying he thinks sitting in a different spot can have a negative effect on students when they are taking a test

“It just feels different,” Wikstrom says.

Tanner Banbalkenurg a sophomore studying marketing, has a different perspective.

“Remember it’s good to move and get out of your comfort zone,” Banbalkenurg says. “Being comfortable isn’t a good thing, you need to get out of your comfort zone to grow.”

Baca agrees.

“Take a chill pill,” he says. “Remember why you’re there, it’s to study, not to have your specific spot.”

When it comes down to it, there’s worst things that could happen, Ercanerack says.