How To Truly Take Notes Effectively

Most students know by the time they get to college that it is essential to take notes during classes and lectures. Just taking notes doesn’t always cut it though, they must be organized, legible and meaningful to be successful in college courses.

There are a couple easy methods to ensure you are not wasting your time taking notes. Whether you choose to write your notes by hand, type them or record them, I have a few recommendations that will make your note-taking efficient and worthwhile.

If you choose to type your notes like many colleges kids do these days, you have a huge advantage to make your note taking as understandable as possible.

Say you’re stuck with a professor who speaks very quickly and doesn’t use a Power Point Presentation (happens all the time). This would be the perfect time to type your notes on your laptop so you can quickly transmit everything the professor says. Taking notes by hand would force you to pick and choose what to transcribe from the professor because you can’t write it all down as quickly as he says it.

The speed at which you can take notes is doubled when using a computer, serving as one of the many advantages digital note taking provides.

Taking lecture notes on a laptop also lets you organize your notes more accurately and efficiently. In a Microsoft Word Processing Document there are settings that can be applied to format your notes by headers, important points and other organizational tools.

The more organized and detailed your notes are, the easier it will be to find main points later.

While technology provides various benefits to efficient note taking, there are negative aspects as well.

Technology, naturally, is a distraction. With laptops and iPads we have games, social media and the rest of the worldwide web to interrupt our concentration.

Believe me, sometimes in college classes there is nothing more tempting than browsing through Facebook profiles all class, which is why we should avoid presenting the opportunity.

Other downfalls to technological note taking are the risk calculations. If your computer crashes or your battery dies during class, how will you recover your notes?

So if the risk is too great for you and you would prefer to take you notes by hand, there are some tips for you as well.

The biggest problem with taking notes by hand these days is that professors cover so much material in such little time that it can be difficult writing down all of the necessary information, thus making your notes sloppy.

When taking notes by hand, legibility is key, making organization important too.

The more organized your notes are, the easier it will be to pick out main concepts to write down, instead of trying to messily scribble everything the professor says.

Since written notes can easily become unorganized, it is often helpful to re-read your notes after class and use a highlighter to outline the main points.

My final helpful tip for hand-written notes is to use it to your advantage if you are a visual learner. What I mean is, if diagrams, pictures or charts help you understand concepts, hand-written notes allow for these types of notes.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for thecollegehelper.com, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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