Some of us have failed to take notes – or have never been quite good at it – because we haven’t found the right style. The fact of the matter is that not all of us can handwrite notes – and be able to retain the information instantaneously; for each of us have our own way of processing information. That’s why we compiled this list of 7 effective ways to take notes in college – so that you can find out what method works best for you.
1. Take Notes On Your Laptop.
Some of us may be quicker at typing than writing; that’s why using your laptop to take notes – instead of pencil and paper – serves as a great way to jot down all the necessary/needed information. Not only that, but this allows you to erase the areas that you messed up on in half the time. In fact, one of the best platforms to use to your advantage is OneNote – or even a google doc – because both automatically save your work so a lot fewer mishaps are bound to happen. Just make sure that you organize everything by folder – or title – so that you can filter through each item.
2. Take Notes Using A Recorder.
If you choose to engage in this form of note-taking then it’s extremely important for you to let the teacher know; the last thing you want is to get yourself in trouble for something that you were unaware of. On the bright side, this strategy helps during the times when you get professors that speak a little too fast for you – making it difficult for you to write down everything that was side; Every student knows the struggle that comes with almost being done with the slide only for it to be switched ahead within a matter of seconds. Recorders save you the trouble by giving you more time to really listen to what’s being said and then being able to listen to it again later.
3. Take Notes Using Note Cards.
This is one of my personal favorites because it helps me to keep all of my units organized before it comes time to take the test; after all, being fed a whole bunch of information – no matter whether it be through an eight-week course or a sixteen-week course – can be rather overwhelming. Consequently, this can cause your terms to get mixed up – especially if your professor is one who rushes ahead to the next unit long before you’ve taken the exam for that current set of chapters. Color code your material – as an extra precaution – to keep each section from getting too chaotic.
4. Take Notes Using College-Ruled Paper.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get paper that is wide enough to fit a large number of notes on one side; why you might ask? Well, the fact of the matter is there’s nothing more annoying than writing down a large amount of information – during your lecture class – just to turn the page every five seconds. All in all, you’ll find that it interrupts the flow of things causing you to question why you even got that cute – but small – composition notebook in the first place. In turn, use college ruled – and make sure that you get the larger five-subject notebook in the process – if you don’t already do so; you’ll thank me later.
5. Take Notes Via Snapshot.
Call me crazy, but I love notetaking; it gives me something to do to pass the time while I’m in class and helps me to retain the information a whole lot better. Yet, even so, taking pictures of the notes still serves as my #2 – especially when you’re in a class where a majority of the material is posted online. This is also great if you happen to have a professor who uses the dry erase board – or a projector – to distribute the material to his/her students; you can then take a quick snap to view things better – while in the classroom – and in your spare time.
6. Only Take Notes On What’s Important.
The biggest mistake that some make as students are copying down every last word of the notes that are provided to them; in other words, there comes a time when you have to realize that enough is enough because not all information that’s given to you is necessary. In turn, it’s better to base all of your notes on what you’re struggling with so that you can be more equipped when it comes time to take the test. All in all, make sure that you summarize – and only write down the key components; this will help you to make sense of the content, instead of wasting space.
7. Word Your Notes In A Way That You Can Understand.
Do not, by any means, write down a definition of something that doesn’t make sense to you; this goes for any part of the material for that matter – because at the end of the day you’re only worsening your confusion. Fortunately, this can all be fixed if you write things in your own words – and/or a way that you can understand; you wanna know an even better secret? Nobody will be judging you for writing something down in simpler terms because they are probably doing the exact same thing. Not only that, but you’ll be able to explain it a whole lot better when it comes time to do so.
Taking notes should never be a task that stresses you out – because that’s the last thing you need on top of the exams, projects, assignments, midterms, and finals that you already have to deal with. In turn, we hope that these 7 effective ways to take notes in college helps you to be more equipped for the classes to come – and enable you to get out of your comfort zone by trying a new technique. Don’t forget to share – and let us know how you take your best notes – in the comments below!
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Whitney is a senior at Missouri State University - majoring in English/Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. In her free time she enjoys freelance writing - and creating content for her blog. She writes to encourage/uplift others - and hopes to one day have her own magazine column.