Tufts by Numbers: A hunt for study space

Weekday evenings between 4 p.m and 10 p.m are rush hour for study territory on campus. Where to go to inspire prime productivity is at the height of most students’ needs from Sunday night to Thursday night.

The Mayer Campus Center and Tisch Library serve as the two prime central study spaces for Tufts’ undergraduates. But, as 4 p.m rolls around, tables and space in these locations quickly fill up. Backpacks and coats mark territory during dinner breaks and friends squeeze in chair after chair around small Rez tables.

I wondered how the space availability of these study spots fluctuated during one randomly-chosen evening on campus. To find the trend, I tracked the availability shifts in the different parts of the Campus Center and Tisch throughout the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 21.

On the hour each hour from 4 p.m to 9 p.m., I counted the number of available multi-person tables in the Hirsch Reading Room in Tisch, Tisch Group Study, Tisch Quiet Study, Tisch basement, lower Campus Center, upper Campus Center, Hotung Café and the Rez. Only independent tables that were completely empty of people or possessions were counted as open.

The overall trend signified that the total availability of all study space in the Campus Center and Tisch peaked at 5 p.m. and dipped at 8 p.m. However, the trend lines of availability in each building varied greatly throughout the evening. While the Campus Center had a trend of increasing availability from 4 p.m. onwards, the availability in Tisch grew from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. but then diminished from 5 p.m. onwards.

In the data breakdown of each building, the Rez was the most unavailable space with zero tables available from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Hotung had the largest number of available tables throughout the evening. Of the Tisch subset, Group Study had the highest availability of study space.

Notably, the variance of availability in each space, signifying how much the availability changed throughout the evening, varied greatly. The highest variance existed in Tisch Quiet Study, which had nine open tables at its height and zero at its lowest. The space with the least variance was the Rez, which remained consistently fully occupied throughout the evening.

A step back from the numbers allows for speculation about greater Tufts trends during weeknight evenings – meal times, study times and social times. This is exemplified in the dip of space availability at Hotung at 6 p.m. due to students eating meals. Additionally, the trend of decreased available space over the course of the evening in the Reading Room points to an increased need for focused study as the weeknight evening progresses.

As seasons change from syllabus week to midterm-packed March, these numbers are prone to vary across the board. But overwhelmingly, weekday evenings are busy in Tufts’ main study spaces, and seeking out multi-person tables in the Campus Center and Tisch will only occasionally provide the desired study spot. At the end of the day, the trick to finding the perfect study space is what our professors have always been telling us: start early, don’t procrastinate – if you start early, the perfect table is much more likely to be waiting for you.


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