15 Epic Outdoor Study Spots at Rollins

September 22, 2020

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

A student studying outdoors in a gazebo overlooking Lake Virginia.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay cooped up in your res hall this semester. Explore 15 of our favorite outdoor spaces perfect for solo study sessions or masked-up collaboration.

As we face the reality of the pandemic this semester, we know that it’s safer to be outdoors than indoors. Fortunately, here on America’s most beautiful campus, we’ve pretty much cornered the market on awesome alfresco spaces, where opportunities for socially distanced living and learning are as prolific as our sunny days.

From poolside decks and lakefront gazebos to sprawling lawns and your very own beach, we’ve put together a list of the 15 most epic outdoor study spots at Rollins. So mask up, keep a safe social distance, and find your favorite place to hit the books.

Catch Some Rays

Students socially distanced and studying on Mills Lawn.Students socially distanced and studying on Mills Lawn.
Photo by Bailey Morris.

Sun worshippers, rejoice! Florida averages 237 sunny days per year, and our campus has no shortage of spots perfect for working on your tan while you’re expanding your mind. In fact, we commend multitasking in all forms. Here are the spots to snag if you prefer your learning with a side of sun.

Mills Lawn

Located right outside the entrance to the new Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, Mills Lawn serves as an outdoor extension of the heart of campus. Its expansive size makes it perfect for social distancing, and the proximity to buildings such as Olin Library and Skillman Dining Hall means you won’t have to go far if you get a hankering for a good book or a snack. The sprawling lawn is the site of many Rollins traditions, including the Fox Fest concert series and the annual Fox Day picnic. Even when it’s not being used as an outdoor party spot, the lawn is often filled with students looking to soak up some sun—just grab a blanket and stake a claim.

Students studying at the picnic tables behind Kathleen W. Rollins Hall.Students studying at the picnic tables behind Kathleen W. Rollins Hall.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Picnic Tables

Opened just this past January, Kathleen W. Rollins Hall is one of the most technologically advanced buildings on campus, and that carries over to the patio outside the building. This spot brings the power ... literally. “The tables outside Rollins Hall are a great spot for studying,” says Papaa Kodzi ’21. “They have outlets outside so my laptop never dies.”

Student studying at the Alfond Swimming Pool.Student studying at the Alfond Swimming Pool.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Alfond Swimming Pool

True, the Alfond Swimming pool, which overlooks Lake Virginia, is mostly known as a go-to spot for swimmers and sunbathers, but why not kick back on the reclining deck chairs with your study group? The deck is big enough to keep a safe distance, and bonus—wearing a mask cuts down on the smell of chlorine.

Students studying on the Bush Science Center patio.Students studying on the Bush Science Center patio.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Bush Science Center Patio

It may blend in perfectly with the surrounding architecture, but the Bush Science Center patio is a relatively new addition to the building, added during a major renovation in 2014. Like most of the campus, the patio is done in the Spanish-Mediterranian style. It’s built out of travertine marble from Pietrasanta, Italy—the same stone used to build the Roman Colosseum—and is surrounded by lush landscaping composed almost entirely of native Florida plants. Pop into Bush Café and grab a beverage to complete the European feel. “An iced coffee and a clear day outside is the perfect combo,” says Kodzi.

Students enjoy snacks in between studying on the beach near Lake Virginia.Students enjoy snacks in between studying on the beach near Lake Virginia.
Photo by Curtis Shaffer ’22.

The Beach

Directly behind the pool is a small, white-sand beach overlooking Lake Virginia that’s perfect for lounging on a beach blanket or towel. Grab a smoothie or an acai bowl from nearby Dave’s Boathouse, bring some flashcards, and don’t forget your sunnies—umbrellas not included.

Student studying in the Cornell Hall courtyard.Student studying in the Cornell Hall courtyard.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Cornell Hall Courtyard

Something about the Cornell Hall courtyard, with its classic archways and clock tower, feels like an old-school quad from a different time. The stone benches provide plenty of opportunities to take a quiet moment and catch some mood-boosting vitamin D. If secret garden vibes are more your speed, check out the smaller courtyard in the middle of the building, featuring an Instagrammable ivy-covered wall and tons of azalea bushes, which are loaded with pink blooms from February to April.

Student taking a break from studying on the dock at Lake Virginia.Student taking a break from studying on the dock at Lake Virginia.
Photo by Curtis Shaffer ’22.

Lake Virginia Dock

There’s something especially meditative about being out on the water, and the dock on the northeast side of campus near the Boathouse is about as close as you can get without setting sail. This is a great place for a solo study session, or even to do some impromptu birdwatching. The lakeshore is full of cormorants, herons, and egrets.

Sydney Brown ’20 studying on the balcony of her residence hall, Ward Hall, which overlooks Lake Virginia.Sydney Brown ’20 studying on the balcony of her residence hall, Ward Hall, which overlooks Lake Virginia.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Ward Hall Balcony & Residence Courtyards

Many of the residence halls at Rollins offer some form of outdoor space, whether it’s a porch, courtyard, patio, or balcony. Ward Hall’s second-story balcony offers breathtaking views of Lake Virginia, and it makes for an apt place to practice Shakespeare if that’s your thing. Just don’t try to climb the balcony to profess your feelings (send a text instead).

Made in the Shade

The flipside to Florida’s abundance of sunshine is that it tends to get hot, with temperatures often reaching the triple digits in the summer. Luckily, lakeside living has its perks: The breezes coming off the water help keep campus cool during even the hottest days. You don’t have to be stuck inside when temperatures rise—just seek out these shady study spots.

Student studying in a gazebo overlooking Lake Virginia.Student studying in a gazebo overlooking Lake Virginia.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Gazebo Overlooking Lake Virginia

Charming gazebos pop up across campus, but our favorite sits right behind the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Why? Because it offers some of the best views of Lake Virginia. Come for the scenic ambiance that provides shelter from the sun and rain, and stay for the gorgeous sunsets that signal each evening.

Student studying in a hammock in Dinky Dock Park, just steps from campus.Student studying in a hammock in Dinky Dock Park, just steps from campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Dinky Dock Park

OK, technically this spot isn’t part of campus, but it’s so close and such a community mainstay that we might as well offer it an honorary degree. Located on the north side of campus near the Sutton Place Apartments residential facility, Dinky Dock Park is a 1.5-acre city park open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk. The park is popular with boaters and paddleboarders and features shaded picnic tables beneath a canopy of old-growth trees. BYOH (bring your own hammock).

Student studying on the porch of Olin Library.Student studying on the porch of Olin Library.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Olin Library Porch

With its wraparound porch dotted with tables and chairs, Olin Library brings a homey feel to the roster of study spots. It’s also centrally located. “The chairs outside Olin Library are perfect for catching a break in between classes and working on assignments,” says Sydney Brown ’21. “It’s also a great spot to people-watch and admire the beauty of the new Kathleen W. Rollins Hall and the Lakeside Neighborhood.”

Students walking under the cypress trees toward the boat bench, a popular study spot on campus.Students walking under the cypress trees toward the boat bench, a popular study spot on campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Boat Bench

In 2015, Rollins challenged its art-minded students and alumni to submit ideas for a public art installation celebrating the College’s donors. The winning sculpture, Boat Benches by Katherine Tyszko ’11, serves as a beautiful and functional reminder of the parents, alumni, and friends who have supported Rollins over the years. This unique spot is one of the most scenic on campus, tucked under hundred-year-old cypress trees right at the edge of Lake Virginia. Find it along the path behind the new Lakeside Neighborhood.

Picnic tables outside the Rollins Bookstore are a great place for studying.Picnic tables outside the Rollins Bookstore are a great place for studying.
Photo by Audrey St. Clair ’03.

Rollins Bookstore Patio

The Rollins Bookstore is a great place to grab branded accessories to show your school pride while staying cool. “The picnic tables outside of the Rollins Bookstore make for an awesome study spot because of their proximity to on- and off-campus food options,” says Brown. “In between assignments, it’s important to rest and eat a snack to keep you focused and alert.”

Professor and students engaging in discussion in the outdoor classroom.Professor and students engaging in discussion in the outdoor classroom.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Orlando Hall Outdoor Classroom

That’s right, we had outdoor classrooms before they were cool. Located in the courtyard of Orlando Hall, Rollins’ original outdoor classroom is likely to get even more use in the near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use the space in between scheduled gatherings. In fact, it’s one of the campus spots you can reserve on the new My Rollins app, which is now available for free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. This official app lets you reserve various study spaces across campus and helps you stay organized, access resources, and connect with faculty and fellow students.

Aerial view of Rollins College campus, which is regularly named one of America’s most beautiful college campuses.Aerial view of Rollins College campus, which is regularly named one of America’s most beautiful college campuses.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Choose Your Own

This last one’s a little bit personal. With 80 acres of lakefront property to explore and plenty of green space, there’s no way we could round up every single outdoor study spot worthy of praise. In fact, you’ll find that each person who lives and works at Rollins tends to find their own special niche—whether it’s in the sun or the shade. So get creative, go exploring, and find your ideal place to work without walls. We promise not to tell anyone where it is.

Rollins students walking to class.

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