My guide to taking notes in university

Happy October! Wow, time really is flying by (please slow down!). A month of classes down and so far, they’re going well! I’m keeping up with my readings and I’ve been making an effort to take better notes in class. Taking well-written and organized notes in university is key to understanding what is going on when it comes to writing essays for class and  prepping for your midterm and final exams. This week, I’ve come up with some helpful tips that might help you out when taking classes in university.

1) Decide: Laptop or paper?

You won’t need to make this decision right away. You might even find that each class is different. For myself, I only use my laptop in my Theories of Society and FSL (French as a Second Language) lectures. I take notes for the rest of my courses on paper. It may come down to your personal preference; it may be that some classes are smaller and paper-notes are easier or perhaps your professor restricts laptop use and prefers students hand write their notes. Either way, stay organized! For hand-written notes, make sure that you take care of your notebooks to ensure that you don’t lose your notes. For laptop notes, read the next tip!

2) Use Dropbox or an online USB

I started doing this in first year and although I’m happy to say I haven’t had my laptop suddenly crash on me, I know that if it had happened, all of my notes and essay prep would be saved. This will save your life, literally. For Dropbox, you can install it onto your laptop and when you save your notes, you can save them within a folder on Dropbox. You can then access these notes anywhere – your laptop, your computer, another computer (just as log as you have your login). I’m sure there are other types of online USB’s like OneDrive but I prefer Dropbox.

Don’t let this be you

3) Try your best to stay off of other websites

I can’t lie, I’m pretty bad for this. However, I really do like to take well-written and organized notes so I try to limit myself on the internet during class. If you’re really having a hard time with this, you can always switch to hand-writing your notes or using a program on your computer that stops you from logging into your listed sites during specific times. Lectures are 2 or 3 hours with a break in between so it’s really best to take your notes and go on Facebook during your breaks. Trust me, you will love yourself later in the semester when you’re compiling all of your notes for your exam.

4) Sit near the front of the class

Doing this will encourage you to stay focused on the professor and the lecture being taught. You’ll be less likely to start texting if your prof is right in front of you and you’ll be less distracted by people sitting around you. Also, it might make it a bit easier and more comfortable environment for you to raise your hand in class since it’ll feel like you’re just speaking to your prof and not the entire class. Honestly, it’s a really easy way to get the most out of the class.

5) Compare and share notes before an exam, test, or essay

Cross-referencing your notes with another person can take your notes from 0-100 real quick (Sorry, had to). No but seriously, you might find that the other person took better notes on one lecture than you did or that they were there on a day that you were absent. I’ve done this before a bunch of mid-term or final exams and it honestly helps so much. You really can’t go wrong with this tip.

Hope these tips help! What are some of the ways that you try to take well-organized notes during class? Comment and let me know!

I post every Thursday, see you then!


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