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4th March 2014
Julia Gleeson divulges her top tips on getting a seat in the Learning Commons


Exams and deadlines hit hard for all of us – basic hygiene is thrown out the window, sleep is but a distant memory and access to study space becomes more vital than drinking water. More often than not, the ascension of the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons stairs brings not a sense of achievement but rather extreme disappointment and defeat.  Gasping for breath, you scan around for the holy grail of university exam time – the free computer (or in fact any free desk space). Of course there are absolutely none available – something you knew hours before embarking on your study quest but the 3000 word essay that is due tomorrow has disrupted your reasoning abilities.  Here are some of the most popular methods which have shown successful acquisition of a prime spot in Ali G:



Risk level – 8

For the brave and foolhardy out there, waiting in one spot for a computer may be the tactic for you.  This tends to require experience – knowing who is about to pack up and leave and who is actually just going for a quick coffee is a skill seldom mastered.  Do not be put off by the soul-burning glares coming at you from every direction – you must stand your ground.  Remember, working students sense fear.  Focus on a normal breathing pattern and avoid eye contact at all times.  (Top tip – be aware of other like-minded students lurking behind oversized armchairs).


Straight to the Top!

Risk level – 6

Are you a high-flying no-messing-about student? Do you have 47 minutes to complete an essay that you’ve been avoiding for 4 weeks? Then this technique is definitely for you.  Studies have shown that 80% of students entering the learning commons work their way from the bottom floor to the top in their hunt for a seat – being part of the other 20% makes YOU a winner and more likely to come across a free spot.  After crossing the barriers, get in the lift and go immediately to the third floor – DO NOT TAKE THE STAIRS. You will need all the energy you can muster once out of the lift to move swiftly between absurd numbers of coffee tables and quite possibly race other students for a spot. (N.B. suitable running shoes recommended for this).


Going Underground

Risk level – 4

The unknowing and inexperienced fear the basement level of the learning commons, which has been likened to ‘the fiery pits of hell’ by many.  However, most university students tend to exaggerate on average around 37 times a day, so fear not the damp and dismal stenches of the standard basement – this one is relatively pleasant (lack of sunlight exposure may lead to vitamin D deficiency).


The Early Bird

Risk level – 2.7

Early birds certainly do catch the worm, and if you arrive at the learning commons at 4am you’ll do just that!  A favourite technique used by many third years, this allows at least three hours before sunrise to get settled, think about your degree choice, and have a really good cry.  Alternative approach ‘The Night Owl’ has similar effects but tends to bring out more erratic behaviour and shouting episodes.


The First Year

Risk level – 0

Widely available to all first year students, this is the most simple and effective method of avoiding learning commons disappointment.  Essentially requiring no effort whatsoever, individuals who wish to give this a go don’t actually have to leave their room – at all! Contrary to unpopular belief, first year doesn’t really count, and so spending as much time as is humanly possible in bed is highly recommended.

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