University level courses are designed to pack a lot of information into a short period of time. There's not enough time during class to fully absorb everything. That's why it's important to take efficient and well-organized notes. We've compiled the top 6 tips to help you take effective notes that will help you succeed in college.
1. Prepare Before Class
Class preparation includes making sure you have the right tools and coming prepared for the discussion topic. Studies have shown that students who take handwritten notes, "remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material" than students who type their notes. However, the best tool is the one you will use consistently. Be honest with yourself and prepare to take notes using whichever supplies you will always have with you in class.
You should also arrive to class mentally prepared. In addition to completing required reading and assignments from the previous class, peruse the upcoming topic prior to class. If you have some level of familiarity of the material in advance, you will be more likely to gain a deeper understanding during the discussion.
2. Have a System
There are a lot of different note-taking styles and the best system is the one that makes sense to you. Visual learners may benefit from mind-mapping while others may prefer the organization of outlined notes. College Info Geek has a great article explaining six different note taking systems, so you can find the right system for you.
3. Highlight Key Points
Ask yourself what the professor wants you to take away from the class. The key point should stand off the page so you can find it at a glance. Using a highlighter or a different color for these important topics and themes will make them easy to find when you review your notes.
It can be tempting to write down exactly what you hear in class, but we recommend paraphrasing instead. In order to put things into your own words, you have to really understand what's being said. If you're having trouble paraphrasing, it's probably a good time to ask clarifying questions.
5. Make Note of Questions
There may not be time to ask all the questions that come up in class. If you write them down in your notes, you know what you need to research further to truly understand the concept.
6. Review Your Notes
Don't wait until the end of the semester to review your notes. Whether your learning the foundations of hospitality management, advanced leadership skills, or mathematics, the concepts build on one another as the semester progresses. The more you go over your notes from previous classes, the better situated you will be to understand newer topics as they are introduced.
Effective note-taking is an essential skill for success in college. If you've not taken notes regularly in previous classes, don't worry. As with all skills, you'll become more efficient with practice.