When you picked your classes at SOAR, you might have focused on making sure your classes helped fulfill the requirements on your DARS or minimizing your transit across the broad landscape of UW-Madison. This method of class selection, while beneficial for your graduation timetable and knees, does not take into account the most important factor in your learning — your environment.  

There are 388 buildings on campus, each with the potential to brighten or dim your mood during your studies. Before you reach the drop date, here are my picks for the best and worst places to have class this semester.

BEST- Nancy Nichols Hall

Home to the School of Human Ecology, or SoHE or SHE, with an “o” to make sure we’re aware that any gender can enroll in the school’s programs, Nancy Nichols Hall has pretty standard classrooms, mainly featuring that signature sleek white look that tells you a building was constructed after 2002. The main draw to having class in this hall is the chance to encounter some of the most tastefully designed bathrooms you’ve ever seen three times a week (six times if you chose to make meditative trips before and after class). Seriously, I once signed up for a research study here just so I could examine the delicate craft that went to designing each stall. The environment in Nichols Hall makes it easy to “clear” any uneasiness with topics experienced in class before it’s time to study.

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WORST- Van Hise Hall

If your goal is to be confused where you’re supposed to be on the first day of classes, then Van Hise has you covered. While the actual classrooms are not destructive to learning vibes, the stairs are. Given its proximity to Bascom Hill, Van Hise has multiple points of entry that lead to various different levels of the 19-floor building. It’s very difficult to figure out where the lobby of the building is, making therapeutic post-class “discussion sections” (talking with your friends about memes you saw during class) difficult to arrange. While the university has plans to demolish the building in 2025, I say we work on removing just two floors to start out with so students don’t have to bring their spatial confusion into the classroom.

BEST- Grainger Hall

Home to the School of Business, Grainger Hall joins Dejope Hall and Union South as one of the three buildings on campus that look like relaxing, modern airport terminals, but this is the only one you can have class in! Stroll alongside random bicycle memorabilia and unnecessary lit-up signs as you grab your pre-class coffee from the Capitol Cafe, taking time to marvel at the astounding amounts polos and khaki shorts found within Grainger’s walls. The fun doesn’t stop once you get into the classroom, where you might have the pleasure of having class in a swivel chair. After class, take in your material and study at the new Learning Commons, which I can best describe the environment as comfier than my bed.

WORST- Mosse Humanities Building

Have you ever been to a building and thought, “Wow, this needs more grey”? I’m fairly certain that was the only thing the architects were thinking when they designed this building. Seriously, I’m pretty certain more than fifty shades of grey are found in this building. While Humanities may look convincing as a lair, the confusing layout makes attending lectures and office hours a journey through time and space, only for one to be greeted after the journey with sadness-inducing color schemes and screechy chalkboards. The one hidden benefit to this building is the ledge on the third floor, providing an outside study spot during the summer that makes you feel low key like a gargoyle.

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BEST- Science Hall

While these rooms might be a tad antiquated given that they are more than 100 years old, Science Hall provides students with the most spooky vibes we’ll ever get to experience. This hall is perfect for some after class ghost hunting, which might lead to some new friends. You could find out the girl sitting behind you in lecture also is an Ouija aficionado, or the ghost of Timothy B. Wellingsworth also hates chemistry as much as you do.

BEST & WORST- Outside

For the first couple weeks, having class outside seems like the best idea. The isthmus is almost an idyllic utopia during this period and having class time with a perfect, unobstructed view of Lake Mendota seems like a great idea. Then winter comes, stealing every bit of joy from your existence and forcing you to cling on tightly to your Canada Goose jacket in order to avoid frostbite’s wrath. Everyone will be jealous of you when it’s nice outside though, so the potential freeze burns are worth it.

It’s not too late to completely edit your class schedule for the fall semester, but remember that no matter the environment, there are at least 388 places for you to find your home as a Badger.