The Definitive Guide to GSR Etiquette


GSRs, or Group Study Rooms, are an essential aspect of any Wharton MBA’s life in Huntsman.

You were introduced to these gleaming, four-walled cubicles in your first tour of UPenn as a prospective MBA applicant and were so impressed that you decided to apply. In pre-term, when you met your learning team for the first time, it was in a GSR that you decided to take The Big Idea seriously. They were a non-trivial decider of success in your first semester core classes, and by now you’re familiar with the age-old saying: “The learning team that GSRs together, gets the elusive A+ in Marketing 611 together.”

Given the continuing importance of GSRs in your Wharton career, here are a few pointers anto help you make the most of them going forward:

  • Before you try to game the system, you should learn about the system. There are 57 GSRs in Huntsman. 57 excluding the ones in 2401 (and to be fair, who reserves those anyway?). The GSRs in the basement get no cell phone service and the GSRs on the third floor have odd, non-lumbar-supporting chairs and desks that don’t have enough leg space. This means that the GSRs worth reserving are on the first floor and the second floor, which number 28. Assuming at least 1 person from every learning team would like a GSR every day (which takes into account the undergrads who also want GSRs), you’re looking at a 10% success rate in booking a decent GSR. This is lower than Wharton’s 2015 MBA acceptance rate, so you’ll require equal portions of luck and cunning to outsmart your fellow students and secure a coveted GSR.
  • The best time to book a GSR, as proven by numerous scientific experiments conducted over the past year, is as much in advance as possible. A week prior to a foreseen engagement is ideal. Each additional day results in a 17% drop in likelihood that you’ll find a GSR of your choice. All these numbers, however, go out the window when it’s FRP or undergrad finals week. In either of these cases, skip the GSR system altogether and place a bag with non-essential items on a chair in the MBA café so you have a seat whenever you need it. If this doesn’t work, just stay at home. Don’t have a home? Try Saxby’s.
  • As is the case with most important things in life, with GSRs it’s all about the location. Even if you do manage to reserve a highly-contested first or second floor GSR (henceforth referred to as a GSR), be strategic in your placement. The 12-1.30 pm slot is best reserved near the MBA café so you can benefit from the proximity to free food. Otherwise, a GSR on either end of the floor, near the restrooms, can be particularly opportune if you foresee having a hearty Indian lunch or three cups of coffee beforehand.
  • Once you’re in the GSR, the side of the table you sit on will determine the productivity of your session. If you’re in a solemn study/interview prep mood (which is what you should be doing if you’re reserving a GSR in the first place), face away from the giant glass window. Why? So you can hide your face from friendly passersby who will undoubtedly drop in to say “Hi!” and interrupt your serious session. Who wants friends? Not you. If you’re in a happy, social mood, however, feel free to face the giant glass window and smile at passersby to invite them to share a GSR with you. After all, a friend in need of a GSR is a friend in deed. If you’re in neither mood and only reserved the GSR to have a room to eat lunch in, don’t do either. Just leave the room for someone more deserving.
  • Don’t be the person who leaves crumbs of food on GSR tables. Period.
  • Although reserving GSRs is competitive enough to inspire an Olympic sport, there is one occasion that may call for you to concede the room in order to be considered a decent human being. That occasion involves a fellow student running over time because they are obviously interviewing over Skype. Wait outside politely and hope they get the job.
  • On the other hand, don’t be that person who decides to begin an interview in a GSR without reserving it in order to guilt-trip people into letting you use it.
  • Don’t be fooled by the individual thermostats placed in each GSR. They don’t work. They’re only there to make you believe you have some semblance of control on Huntsman’s temperature. You don’t.
  • If you’re being asked to exit a GSR to make way for another reservation, do so with grace. Expletives and eye rolls are not necessary.
  • And admit it or not, the purest form of joy you’ve felt at Wharton is while chucking someone out of a GSR you reserved, a few seconds before the 10 minute mark of conceding your reservation. It will be hard, but try not to show it.

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