Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Frosh Perspective: Taking Notes

Angelina Truchan is a freshman at Wayne State University who plans to major in public relations. She hopes to share a bit of her year and her perspective with our Under PRessure readers. This month, she puts a focus on note taking, a skill she has learned to hone over her first few months in college. Not only is this valuable for school, but taking notes is vital for any informational interviews you may be conducting.


Taking Notes: 

Many college students tend to dread two small words. One is a verb, the other a noun. What are they? Taking notes! Of course the easy way to deal with lectures is to just show up, do the bare minimum, and get the heck out! But, is this truly the best way to succeed in your classes? The answer is most definitely not. Here are a few of my favorite simple steps that I learned from a professor at Long Beach City College:

1. Review your notes from previous lectures. Before getting to class it is important to look over the notes you took from the class before. That way, if you get lucky and the professor decides they are in a jovial mood that day; you will already be prepared to ask any questions you have. Likewise, it might give you a confidence booster in review to be able to answer any review questions the professor might throw out to the class.

2. Preview the textbook. Many professors will give assigned reading before lecture. Avoid feeling confused and out of the loop; READ! They are telling you to do this for a reason. It will help you to get a jump start of what the professor will be talking about in the next lecture.

3. When in doubt…write it down! If you are sitting and contemplating if the material the professor just spoke was important or not, chances are it is. It is better to write down more than you think you should and to go back after the lecture and filter out the unimportant material.

4. Go on a “diet” with your notes. This sort of contradicts my previous point. Although it is important to write down all that is believed to be relevant to the class, you can do it in a manner that doesn’t take up too much space on paper (or too much of your energy). Learn to abbreviate in a way that best suits you. Begin using “code words” that maybe only you understand. This can in turn help you to memorize material better.

5. Ask your instructor for advice. So many first time college students may not be accustomed to taking notes. Also, professors in college are far different from your last high school teacher. To ensure you are on the track to success in each of your classes, see the instructor after your first class of the semester and ask them to review your notes. Most of the time they will be willing and happy to help so it does not hurt to try! See what kind of notes the professor says are most important to take and have them judge your notes to see if you are taking an adequate amount. Don’t be scared J.

6. Find a method that works best for you. For more information, see Cornell Notes online advice. They give great outlines of different note methods. When I googled “Cornell Notes” an image template popped up.

7. Type out your notes. I absolutely LOVE doing this. To some, it might be seen as doing unnecessary extra work. I beg to differ. It’s an awesome way to reinforce the material into your memory. It’s better than just reading over your notes (I get bored with that). I usually will type out my notes a week or so before I have an exam coming up. It’s a great way to get my notes organized and in the end creates a super useful study guide for myself.

I hope my few simple steps help you to become the SPECTACULAR note taking student that you are! For more information (and where I got all this great advice) see the YouTube clip by LBCC professor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bvsf591rYWE . Happy note taking!

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