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Laundry On Sundaes

Every beginning is only a sequel, after all, and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Alright, time for some concrete advice for this week’s Take it from a Senior. You’re in college, you go to your classes (at least for the the first few weeks), you sit there in your seat and listen (unless it’s a 9am lecture), and most likely you will be taking notes. But how should you do it? Each student has his/her own methods, but here are some general guidelines that might help you take better notes.

First things first, your note-taking strategies will depend on the type of class you’re in. Here are a few ways to take your notes and what kind of class they work best for.

1. The standard notebook. You know, the spiral-bound kind, probably with your school logo on the front. This works for pretty much anything, but if your class tend to have lots of hand-outs and such, consider #2.

2. The binder. This works great just like the notebook, but with the added bonus of organizing loose hand-outs, quizzes, old exams that are given back to you, etc. It’s an excellent way to keep all the materials for a class organized in one place.

3. The printed PowerPoint. If your prof lectures with PowerPoint presentations, I find it best to print out the slides and bring them to class with you, and take notes directly on each slide. To save paper, I suggest printing 4 slides per one side of each sheet of paper, landscape orientation (so that the slides are bigger), and print double-sided.

4. The laptop. This works great for those classes where the prof speaks faster than you can write. Or if you want to go on Facebook during class (just kidding, don’t do that). But the downside is that if the class involves complicated diagrams, formulas, or other drawings, it’s probably not the best.

5. The recorder. If your prof talks faster than you can write OR type, it might be worth it to invest in an small electronic recorder. That way, if you miss anything, you can always play it back and listen again. You can also be a true nerd and studying by listening to the lecture while riding the subway.

Alright! Now you’ve found the best way to take notes for each of your classes. Now 2 other little tips for effective note-taking:

1. Use a 4-colored pen! This might be a habit left over from my high school biology class where the teacher demanded we use only 4-colored pens, but it really does make your notes better. More colors make your diagrams clearer, your key words and important concepts stand out, and your notes prettier in general! Plus, it’s more fun.

2. Make up your own shorthand abbreviations and symbols. You won’t have time to write down every single word in class, so don’t. And don’t just stick to conventional shorthands, make up your own! Your notes are for you, after all. For instance, I use arrows a lot, for signifying one thing leading to another, one thing becoming another, or even increase/decrease with an up or down arrow.

And there you go! Now go take some awesome notes!


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