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Our UAlbany MyStory bloggers share their lives with you to help you to stay focused on your goals, to remind and inform you about the many supports that we have on campus to help you succeed, and to let you know that, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.
TONIGHT: Join us for the 2nd Dinner and Discussion. Topic: HELP! I Am a UAlbany Dane and I am Undecided! 6pm, Science Library, 3rd Floor, Room 340.
Notes on Notes
Last semester, one of our Student-to-Student Success Dinner and Discussion Series focused on learning how to listen and take notes in a new way. Entering college for the first time or transferring to a new college, often requires new approaches learning. This can include re-learning how to take notes. Before the program, we asked a few students to share their experiences.
In high school, as long as we copied all the notes our teachers handed to us, we would be set for exams and projects. However, it didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t the case in college; in college, the slides our professors present to us are meant to be a supplement, nothing more. Through time and experience, I learned to take notes during lectures, read the textbook, complete the assignments and attend office hours if I needed further clarification. As such, implementing these habits and adjusting them as you see fit to cater to your personal learning style will allow you to significantly further your academic journey. – By Manshuen Yu, Class of 2022
“Even in my smaller classes, the course content became increasingly difficult and it became harder for me to absorb information from note-taking alone. When it came time for my first exam, I quickly realized I needed to study if I wanted to do well. But what was the best method? Through much trial and error I found that for subjects I struggle with, such as math, it was more beneficial for me to study in a group. That way, we could help each other through each problem and cross check our answers. For subjects that require memorization, flashcards proved to be most helpful. Remembering important dates and historical figures requires endless drilling. And I never study in my room and I never study on my bed. I’m easily distracted in my room and, as I associate my bed with rest, the likelihood of me getting tired and falling asleep increases. When I’m studying alone, I go to one of several Quiet Zones on campus; when I’m with a group, we meet in a Collaborative Zone.” – By Meisa Brown, Class of 2021
“I find that effective studying starts in the classroom. I have noticed throughout my freshman year that if I don’t pay attention in class, studying becomes exponentially harder. Most professors upload their slides and lessons online, so when I study I will always have them opened up on my computer. I find that writing things out helps me memorize, however studying is more than just copying slides word for word. In addition to that, I make sure I understand what I’m copying and when I don’t, I will look online for explanations. Once I’ve learned it, I will add it onto the notes that I am writing in addition to the notes that I have copied from my teachers slides. Sometimes reading and writing alone just isn’t enough, and I have to watch videos on how to solve certain problems. It is still important that even with videos I write out what I learned. It is tedious but writing retains information best for me and also allows me to look back on my notes easily.”
– By Eric Tong, Class of 2022
MyStory volunteer, Mengna Wang, summarized the program.
Taking notes is a crucial skill for everyone to master, if they want to succeed in their coursework. We invited three students who are great at taking notes to come and share their methods.
“Using abbreviation and signs will help you to take notes quickly without missing any important points.”
As long as you can understand your own handwriting and personal abbreviations and symbols, do whatever you need to do, to record the information in a way that will help you rather than confuse you. You want to write fast, but also effectively. Using your own words to take notes will allow you to have a deeper understanding of the materials. Using your words can also help you to build your confidence and help you to connect to the material. Finally, taking notes in your own words will help you to concentrate, making you less likely to fall asleep. We invite you to share in the comments, any tricks that you use to take notes quickly.
PowerPoint No No
Sometimes, we just read the PowerPoint that the professor puts on the screen and copy the material into our notes. This is not helpful at all. Copying sentence by sentence from the slides makes us only focus on writing the words, not on the knowledge we have to gain. Instead, if you can, download or screenshot the slides and write your personal notes on them or next to them.
Coloring is for College Students Too
Using different color pens and marker pens to highlight different points of knowledge is an efficient way to help you distinguish important information.
Be Prepared to Prioritize
Preparing for the lessons before your classes will also help you take good notes. Knowing what you are going to learn before class will give you a sense of what is important and what is not while you are in class. Reading the material before class will also help you to identify what you do not understand, so you can pay more attention in class because you will want to figure out the answers to your questions.
Your Notes Should Spark Joy
It is vital to make your notes organized. Putting the date on your notes will make them more convenient for you to come back to add more comments when you are studying. Making your notes neat and clean will give you the desire to come back to review.
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