Note-taking examples and tips that will help you ace your college classes!
This post is all about note taking in college.
Note taking in college sounds a lot easier than it actually is. If you’re struggling with figuring out how to take notes in lectures (that are actually useful when it comes to studying), you’re not alone. More college students struggle with this than you would think!
You’re probably aware of the importance of note-taking skills to a student….
But there’s a catch.
Every student learns slightly differently, and might prefer slightly different formatting. That’s why I made sure all the note-taking strategies in this post are adaptable to your needs, but they are objectively amazing tips when it comes to organized and effective note taking in college.
These note taking tips have seriously changed the game for me in the best way, and I’m convinced they will for you, too!
This post is all about note taking in college.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll earn a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Our full disclosure policy is pretty boring, but you can read it here.
NOTE TAKING IN COLLEGE TIPS:
1. The information on slides is important!
I know this is a controversial statement, but I honestly believe that you SHOULD write down the points that a professor puts on the slides as much as possible.
Some people will tell you to paraphrase, but that’s just not effective.
Usually, the points written on the slides are already paraphrased and condensed. So, it’s easy material to study when it comes to the exam.
With so much course material being online these days, your professor might post the slides online so you can open them directly there. But I still argue that it’s best to write the information on the slides within your actual notes document because that way you’ll be able to make notes of additional insights that the professor provides within the lecture, and you’ll have all those notes in the same place. This makes it so easy to access when you go to study!
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2. Write down related thoughts and things you find interesting
Within lectures, there are often concepts that professors touch on that you may find interesting. My rule of thumb is to always write these down, because they might just end up being the bones of an intelligent argument on a long-answer exam question.
When you’re studying for your exam weeks later, you probably won’t remember all your interesting thoughts that came to mind during the lecture. So make sure you at least make quick note of these.
This is one of those note-taking techniques that people don’t talk about much, but it can prove incredibly effective when it comes to exam time.
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3. Write down the professor’s insights, not just facts
Similarly to the last point, one of the most effective note-taking methods for college is to take note of insights that the professor is sharing. This means not just writing down facts (such as the information on the slides or from the textbook), but also additional information, thoughts and opinions that the professor shares.
Professors love when you tie in a related opinion or application that they mentioned in class, so it’s always a good idea to take note of their commentary.
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4. Use your laptop & learn to type fast
Can you take notes on a laptop in college in an effective way?
In fact, I think taking notes on a laptop is one of the best methods of note taking. And the best way to take notes electronically is by learning to type fast enough to keep up with your professor.
Not there yet with your typing skills? Don’t worry. You learn how to take notes in college with a laptop by just doing it, because you’ll get more efficient with time.
It’s easier to edit your notes, go back and add to points, and keep organized formatting with a laptop. Plus, if you’re a good typer, then using your laptop to take lecture notes is way faster!
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5. Pay attention to “optional” linked resources
Often, professors will link to additional resources within the lecture slides or the syllabus.
How does this relate to note taking in college?
Well, checking these links and then adding information from these resources to your notes will prepare you even better for midterms and exams. You usually don’t need to extensively study those optional resources, but they will help you gain a more well-rounded understanding of the course content, enhance your notes, and improve your chances of doing well in the class.
6. Format everything the same way
The best way to take notes on computer documents in college is by formatting all your notes the same way.
What does this look like?
Find the font styles, sizes, and colours you like and format all your notes the same way. Separate information strategically and use headings to organize the content in a way that makes sense to you.
This will just make all your notes easy to read and you won’t have to think through how to format your notes every time because you’ll have a personal, standardized method of note taking in college.
For example, I always take notes in Times New Roman, 12pt font with 14pt bolded titles and underlined headings. I also always date my notes. Maybe I’m a complete organization freak and weirdo, but I know it works super well in helping me organize and remember information. Here’s an example of what my college notes look like:
7. Organize your documents in order
This is another essential tip on how to take lecture notes on a laptop. YOUR TITLES MATTER.
I start a new document for every new lecture. I start out all my document titles with a number, corresponding to what week of the semester it is, so that they’ll all appear in order in their designated folder on my laptop. This makes notes SO easy to find.
I know some people like putting all their notes for the whole semester in the same document. That’s great too! But, I would still recommend organizing your folders well.
For example, have a separate folder for each class. Within each of those classes, create at least two separate folders; one for lecture notes and one for assignments.
Here’s an example of how I do this with my lecture notes:
8. Have the right study tools
Having all the right study tools is so important when it comes to note taking in college and effective studying!
Make sure you always have a comfortable study space in your apartment or dorm room with everything you need at your fingertips. You probably already have some essential study tools if you’re a college student, but find out if there’s anything else you need that could make your study sessions easier!
Check out this post that lists a bunch of the best study essentials and tips so that you can make sure you’re set up for success.