Okay so we’ve already talked about how to ensure that our notes are at a pretty decent standard in the post Become a note-taking Guru! But what happens “behind the scenes”? What do you do with your notes after class?
There is many a way of organising your notes, books, stationary, etc. for school and I’m sure that most students have their only personal method of madness that makes sense in their heads – I know I do! So here is a quick article about my own organisation system and I hope it helps any of you who are just beginning to put their notes into order…
So the first thing I do is print off the handouts that each individual lecturer uploads before class. I make sure to read these through the day before the lecture, if only to get an idea of what the teacher is going to talk about. I feel this has a few benefits over taking notes on EVERYTHING:
- It saves you some time in class, as the basic content of the lecture normally is already written down, meaning you can concentrate more on the little details.
- Think of that moment when reading back your own notes, when you realise that you’ve
written about a certain diagram or graph shown in class, but you can’t remember which one! Taking notes around the picture in question could help you avoid this mild annoyance.
- It allows you to differentiate what’s really important. Generally what the teacher has decided is important enough to include in the handouts is considered the base of the class. So any additional notes you take can be considered extra details or maybe an alternative explanation.
The next step for me is to “fill out” my notes. When doing any extra reading or studying on the topic of the class, I make sure to keep my handouts and notes near, as you never know when you will come across a bit of extra information you feel is worth noting down. I make sure to write this information in a different colour to the colour of the original notes (Example in photo above: blue for class, green for extra reading). This step isn’t essential, but most lecturers, especially at university, feel that students should be doing some private study on top of classes. By adding a bit of extra information, that wasn’t mentioned in class, as part of an exam or assignment you’ve shown your ability to learn independently.
Finally, I get the class handouts, my notes, my extra notes and any assignments or projects bound together in the form of a notebook and I store it on my bookshelf. Sometimes you’ll find that you barely glance at a certain subject’s notes again, but there has been many a time when I have needed to refer to a previous class or a friend, who has thrown away their old notes, asks to borrow mine.
I hope this has helped some of you. I’ve found that this is the best way to keep my notes neat and tidy and comprehensible to people other than yourself. It’s also quite time efficient, which is always an added bonus.