For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
Display notes
Feb 06 2017
by Em Brandon

5 Ways to Make Your Notes More Helpful

By Em Brandon - Feb 06 2017

In high school, I rarely needed to take extensive notes on any subject. When I needed to study for something, more often than not, a study guide was provided. In college, those handouts are far and few between. That’s why I spent my first college semester making sure I knew how to take notes in a way that not only helps me remember information, but is also fun. I’ve learned that the best notes I take aren’t the ones I jot down in class, but the ones I rewrite later on at home, so these tips aren’t exactly for notes you’ll take in a 200-person lecture, but rather more in-depth, clean notes you’ll want to go over before midterms and finals.

1. Take Your Time

Taking your time is key in taking good notes. If you’re rushing to just have something written down, the material isn’t going to stick. If you’re not really ready to focus and learn something, there’s no point in wasting paper on bad notes. Setting a time to focus on note taking is a good start to having well written personal study guides. Plus, taking your time on notes gives you the opportunity to switch up fonts, use cool headers and reiterate concepts that might confuse you by taking extra time to write them out.

2. Change Ink Color and Fonts

One of the simplest ways to spice up your notes is to switch up ink colors and written fonts. I usually use a bright color, like red, for vocabulary words because they always seem to pop up on my quizzes. That way, I’m able to see them bright and clear whenever I’m studying. Making each set of study terms a different color helps, especially if you know that you remember vocab like a pro, but have a hard time remembering examples. As for the different written fonts, you don’t have to be Picasso to make some bubble letters. Just a few changes here and there will make taking notes a little less monotonous.

3. Keep it Simple

Image Credit: Em Brandon

When writing notes, it’s best to keep terms as simple as possible so they’re easy to remember. Because of this, don’t use full sentences unless completely necessary. This way, you can get more notes on one page, and the notes you do have will be as concise as possible and that much easier to digest and memorize.

4. Bring in Other Supplies

Image Credit: Em Brandon

Sticky notes and washi tape can help to shape your notes in countless ways. If there’s a break in a chapter and you want to signify that, consider sticking a line of washi tape across the page. If you want to add a doodle or a note to a page but you don’t want to risk messing up the rest of the page, use a sticky note. I keep my drawings simple.

Image Credit: Em Brandon

Plus, you can write out sticky notes while originally reading a chapter or listening to a lesson, and then insert it into notes if it’s important enough.  

5. Draw it Out

Lastly, something I’ve seen overlooked in the world of note taking is drawing out explanations in your own way. I’m not saying to draw out just your biology notes, but your English and political science ones, too. Vocabulary terms that don’t quite make sense can be thought over as you doodle a goofy photo for them, and then if it comes up in an exam or a conversation, you have a quick way of remembering them.

While it’s rare to find anyone excited to take notes, it’s important to realize how important they can be to your success in tougher classes. While most freshmen aren’t in their most difficult courses yet, it’s important to think about how you’ll tackle those courses when the time comes. Practicing your studying and note taking skills now will be helpful later on in your schooling. Good luck in finding your colorful pens, sticky notes and washi tape, and don’t forget to keep your notes simply written, well drawn out and helpful.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

Want to write for Fresh U? Join now
Want more Fresh U? Like us on Facebook!
Em Brandon - University of Nebraska Omaha

University of Nebraska at Omaha freshman. Journalism & Media Communication major. Journalist and human rights activist. In love with people, plants, and everything at PetCo. Too kind for my own good, but I'm not complaining. Find me on Instagram (emily.brandon) or Twitter (emi_pb) for more of my opinions and puns.

Most Popular