In the middle of midterms and research papers, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and think about whether your note-taking strategies are helping you out or not. Because we care about you and your academic success, we’ve compiled what we think is a very comprehensive list of note-taking styles. Who knows? Maybe you’ll realize you want to try another system for your next History 1B paper.
Your handwriting is perfectly legible to you, but no one else understands anything you write. On the bright side, people never ask you for last week’s lecture notes. In middle school, you were probably the one who always got minus five points on all of your assignments because your teacher “couldn’t figure out what you wrote.” Or maybe it’s the teachers who didn’t try hard enough to interpret your papers? Yeah, that’s probably it.
The frantic scribe
The professor is talking too fast and the PowerPoint slides become a confusing blur of images and key words. All you can do during lecture is hold on to your chair and frantically scribble down what’s on the board and pray the slide doesn’t change until you’ve copied everything down. You don’t understand how your neighbors have time to leisurely highlight their notes with different colors and even draw pretty pictures of rainbows and unicorns.
The deep thinker
At the beginning of class, you lay your Moleskine notebook and fountain ink pen on top of the desk. Once in a while, you’ll jot down very open-ended and deep-looking phrases like “tough love” or “what is blue?” Throughout the day, you will continue to think about those questions and try to reveal the author’s hidden meaning. Even if the blue curtain is just blue, you’ll tell yourself it probably carries a deeper symbolic meaning about sadness and depression.
Your notebook is a collection of artworks and your handwriting looks like calligraphy. Everything is color-coded so it only takes you one second to find the page where the professor was talking about page 173 of the textbook. Your friends compliment your flawless notes during class but you tell them they’re “a mess” and that you’ll have to rewrite them at home. Your closet is probably also color-coded and you line up your shoes from sandals to boots.
Five minutes into lecture you have no idea what’s going on and decide that playing catch-up with the material at the library is probably more useful. At this point, you put down your pencil and just start counting the ceiling tiles. At some point in lecture you end up falling asleep and your snores disturb everyone around you. Shame on you.
You stop taking notes, not because you’re lost, but because there’s no more space on the back of a flyer someone shoved towards you on Sproul. It’s not like you need to take notes anyway because you’ve already read the textbook twice and everything the professor says you’ve probably already studied in high school or somewhere else. You’re probably that one person who finishes the exam one hour early. Shame on you also.
Your desk is empty because you didn’t bring a notebook, you probably didn’t even bring a backpack. That’s simply because you understand the material better when you’re paying attention instead of trying to write down everything in your notebook. You’re probably the person everyone complains to because you’re such a great listener.
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