Study and Succeed: 9 Note Taking Tips for College Students
Are you going off to college this year?
As your time to head off to classes, either in-person or virtually, approaches, you might wonder how to get the most out of your time in school. After all, this is a unique period of your life in which you’ll be able to sit directly under the tutelage of experts in a variety of chosen fields and take advantage of the knowledge they have to offer.
Part of this process includes knowing good note taking tips for college. Notes help you remember the facts after the class has concluded and aid in your study later on.
But how do you go about note taking in college?
Keep reading for our top 9 pieces of advice!
1. Prepare Before You Go
When you’re a college student, it’s your responsibility to structure your time well and get your studying in. On the surface, it might appear as if you have copious amounts of free time. Yet, you should be using at least some of this free time to study.
Usually, professors give you a list of books to purchase or rent before the class begins. They may also have some PDFs or shorter articles to review. Take a look at your syllabus a few days before every class and determine which texts you need to read prior to the classes beginning.
Give yourself a good amount of time to read and absorb the materials. Then, come to class ready to discuss what’s in the book.
In many cases, the professor will repeat what you already read. Pay attention to which aspects of the text they include in the lecture, and make sure your write those down in your notebook. These are the sections they deem most important, and you should learn them as thoroughly as possible.
2. Decide on Your Preferred Note Taking Method
Did you know there’s not one way to take notes?
That’s because there’s not just one type of person. Different people’s minds work in different ways, so a note taking system that feels intuitive to one student may feel awkward and difficult to follow for another.
A few common types include the outline, the mind map, and flow notes.
When you use an outline, you try to identify a few key points of the lecture. Label these points 1-5, leaving space under each for additional notes. Then, list additional facts beneath each point.
The mind map involves bubbles. Draw one, central bubble first, which includes the main topic of the lecture, then create off-shoot bubbles that summarize brief bits of information. Connect interrelated elements with a line.
Flow notes allow you to tap into the intuitive side of your note taking. If you find yourself fluctuating between styles, it might be for you. Do whatever you feel like is most effective in the moment.
3. Get Designated Notebooks
You should have a designated notebook for each subject you take. Alternatively, you can buy a notebook that has several sections in it and dedicate each section to a different subject.
Having a notebook for each subject helps you keep your notes organized. It keeps you from having to scavenge among different pieces of paper come the time to study for tests.
4. Use Your Computer
Nowadays, almost every student has a computer or other device that allows them to take notes.
Computers have some advantages and disadvantages when it comes to note taking, though. Many people are much faster at typing than they are writing longhand, and typing will help you keep up with your instructor. Yet, some may find computers distracting, especially because many classrooms come equipped with an internet question.
Before you bring your computer to class, ask your instructor how they feel about having laptops in class. Some professors are fine with it, while others ban the use of all electronics.
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5. Consider Bullet Journaling
Do you love to bullet journal?
If you do, here’s some good news: you can also bullet journal your notes. To do this, purchase your favorite journals and take notes using sections and bullet points.
Bullet journals have a lot of blank space on the page, which is good for people who find it easy to concentrate when their hands are busy. Even as you take notes, you can capture your thought process with pieces of art or anything else that inspires you to learn!
6. Review Your Notes
Want to really solidify your notes in your head?
Review them after your class! This both reminds you of what you learned and allows you to add any details you may have forgotten to write down during class!
7. Type Up Your Notes
If your professor doesn’t allow you to have your laptop in class, consider typing up your notes after class.
You should especially do this if you have poor penmanship and think you may have difficulty recognizing what you wrote after some time has passed. It also gives you a backup copy of your notes in case you lose your notebook.
8. Make Sure You Understand the Topics
Once you review after class, ask yourself whether or not you understand each of the topics in your notes.
If you don’t, consult with your classmates or your professor. Classes typically build on each other, so you should have a firm understanding of everything discussed.
9. Note What’s on the Test
Every once in a while, your professor may say, “This will be on the test.”
If this happens, write down what they say and make a note that it will be on the test. This will help you remember to thoroughly study the subject.
Ready to Implement These Note Taking Tips for College?
Now that you know these note taking tips for college, you’re ready to head off to your first class!
Note taking is an essential part of the learning experience. It allows you to process the information as you hear it, gives you the chance to review later, and helps you have greater success in the classroom.
If you want more lifestyle advice, check out the rest of our articles today!