Hello fellow college students! Whether you are about to enter your first year of college or returning for another year, you will be taking notes in your classes! Getting into your own personal routine of taking notes can be difficult at first. College note taking is quite different to high school notes. You may be taking online classes, be in huge lecture halls, or in labs.
With college right around the corner for a lot of us, I want to share all of my tips on college note taking! Today, I want to share with you the types of note taking that I personally like to take that has helped me achieve the grades I want. I’ll share some of my past notes with you guys as well!
Note Taking for College Students
-College Series 101-
*Some of the below links are affiliate links and are at no additional cost to you. I have only included links to products that I have used myself and would recommend to others.*
For all of my classes, regardless if they are online or a lecture, I like to write out my notes. While a majority of your classes will be fine with taking notes with a laptop, I find it very distracting and I’m not able to focus as much with a simple pen and paper. I am a health science major, which means a lot of my notes are drawings. That’s almost impossible to do with most laptops, so I love paper for notes that are drawings.
I also want to mention that every single person has their own personal way to take notes! Using bright colors and having my notes being super organized really helped me study! You may not like using a bunch of colors-find what suits you! This guide is to help you find your type of note taking! My absolute favorite notebooks are the Yoobi notebooks from Target. I am so obsessed with them. The pages are a bright white color and don’t bleed through when you are putting tons of ink on them. Even though they are $2.99, they are 100% worth it. I’ve been buying them for every semester of classes for the past four years now. Another perk of buying the Yoobi products, is that every purchase you make with them, they give a product to a classroom in need in the U.S.
Make a Table of Contents
This may seem a bit odd, but trust me, it’s a lifesaver. I leave the first couple pages blank in any notebook I’m using to create a table of contents. This also means that I number my pages on each notebook. Depending on the type of class, I’ll usually divide up the contents into Chapter/Section. Some chapters may only be a few pages long, while others are hundreds with smaller sections in it. I will then write which pages are on that chapter. This makes it really easy to find what I’m looking for once I start writing tons of notes. Sometimes I am just looking for “section on heart disease,” so instead of flipping through notes, I can just scan the table of contents.
Colored Pens + Markers
I absolutely love colored pens, I own them in almost every single color. Writing notes in a variety of colors is such a fun way to enjoy a long class! I like to title each page in one color, subheadings in another color, definitions in a third- you guys get the point. It helps break up the page and I’m able to find exactly what I’m looking for when I’m studying.
For the colored markers, I use them more for when I am drawing diagrams or figures. I like to color each part of my drawing in different colors, so it’s easier to see each section. For instance, during my biology class, I would color the veins and arteries different colors from the heart. It made it so much easier to understand than if everything was done in a black pen.
Rewriting Your Notes
If your class is extra vigorous, I would recommend rewriting your notes. I try to aim for later that day or the following day. Whether it’s on a computer or another notebook, it is so beneficial! Rewriting something for a second (or third!) time can help you go over the material and learn it more in depth. For my second rewrite, I like to reorganize any information. Maybe I drew a drawing too small and the writing was crammed. For the second rewrite, I would draw it bigger and add any extra information that I missed. This is also when I add in information from the textbook into the lecture notes. For example, if the professor mentioned a word I wasn’t 100% sure on, I would include the definition of it and examples.
After I am finished rewriting my second round of notes, I write EVERYTHING on flashcards. So this is at least my third time writing the information down. I really enjoy making flashcards, so when I have a spare moment I can go over the information and quiz myself. Don’t forget to keep your flashcards for the final exam too! I make the flashcards immediately after rewriting my notes.
*Star * Confusing Information
Whenever I am taking notes and the professor says something that doesn’t make sense to me, so I didn’t get enough time to write everything down, I star it. I draw a big star in a bright colored pen, so when I am rewriting my notes, I know to get more information on that topic. You may want to circle the information or highlight it in a certain color. Whatever your tactic may be, find a way to remind yourself to go over information. You can see in my notes below that I made a big pink star in the bottom left. I wrote what I was confused about right above it, so I knew that when I went over my notes, to really go over that part.
Focus on The Class
This one is really important. Writing verbatim and mindlessly what the professor says, without actually listening to what they are saying won’t help you learn the material. I try to aim for 70% listening, 30% note taking. If I’m so focused on writing down every single thing, I’m going to miss out when the professor goes to the next topic. I’ll leave some space and come back to it after class if there is anything I needed more time on. This will help you be strategic on what actually needs to be written down.
What are your note taking tips? Do you already do what I mentioned above? Which one do you think will be the most beneficial to you? Let me know in the comments below!