June 8, 2004

Students scramble to A-level for finals

Enter the A-level in the Regenstein library after 1 a.m., and you'll think you've stepped into to your high school cafeteria. With spring quarter coming to a close, students are flocking to the all-night study space amidst the frenzy of finals week.

The 24-hour study space began as pilot program in the spring of 2002, part of a Student Government initiative. The pilot demonstrated a significant student interest in the study space, and the A-level was officially opened for 24 hours beginning in the autumn quarter of 2002. When students enter and exit the A-level, they have to swipe their ID cards. Data collected reveals that 1,894 students have made 10,025 visits to the 24-hour study space over the course of this academic year, at an average of 5.3 visits per person.

Jim Vaughan, assistant director for access and facilities for the Regenstein, noted that the actual number of student visits might be somewhat higher than the data compiled by Networking Services and Information Technologies (NSIT). "We try to cover everyone by having students swipe their cards when they come in and when they leave, but it is possible that some are missed," he said. "The laptop computer used for collecting data may not register every visit."

In cooperation with NSIT, Vaughan and other library staff have produced a statistical analysis charting frequency of use and a breakdown of users based on where they live.

The number of visits made by students who do not live in the dorms averaged at five visits per person over the academic year. This average is lower than that of students who live in Blackstone, Hitchcock, Palevsky, and Maclean. Hitchcock is the standout among these undergraduate dorms, with an average of 9.7 visits per student. No clear trend emerges in a breakdown by dorm location, as the second highest ratio comes from Blackstone, which—unlike Hitchcock and Palevsky—is significantly farther away from campus.

Examining the percentage of students within each dorm who use the study space, a trend based on student residences appears even less clear. While Hitchcock featured the highest average of visits per student, only 30.8 percent of students who live there use the study space. Comparatively, 39.7 percent of students who live in Stony Island used the study space. Over the academic year, Stony Islanders have visited the A-level after 1 a.m. 4.4 times each, less than half of the average from students who live in Hitchcock.

Given the data from Hitchcock and Stony Island, there appears to be a trend of more students who live farther from campus using the study space at less frequent intervals than students who live closer. Yet data from students in Palevsky does not support such a trend, as 38.7 percent of students use the study space at an average of 6.9 visits per person, placing it in the top three dorms in terms of general use and frequency.

It remains clear, however, that students in the College are the most frequent users of the all-night study space, comprising some 84 percent of total users according to data collected last spring.

Among students, the most commonly noted appeal to studying in the A-level after 1 a.m. is noise level, which keeps them awake as they slog through papers and problem sets due the following morning.

Brian Ashby, a second-year in the College, said that he makes several visits to the all-night study space during each quarter, noting that it is easier to work in the library than at home where he finds more distractions. "I do get kind of depressed when I see people in their pajamas," he said.

Another second-year in the College, Hilary Shackelford, uses the all-night study space out of necessity, as her personal computer is currently not working. "I'm kind of narcoleptic, and the noise level keeps me from falling asleep," she said, adding that the noise of people passing by keeps her from losing concentration.

Jacob Reckess, a third-year in the College, said that he comes to the all-night study space to work on his economics problem sets. "Usually I do my econ in the A-level, because with econ, you have to scream at each other, and nobody cares because everyone is so damn loud," he said.