Taking Notes in Class

There are a lot of good reasons to take notes in class. Probably the best one is that when you take notes you are 34% more likely to remember the material.  If you don’t take notes that drops to 5%.  So, basically, taking notes improves your ability to remember the material 7 times more than if you didn’t take notes. How you take notes is also a factor. Studies consistently show that handwriting your notes improves memory and synthesis of material far better than typing your notes. That is because with handwriting you simply can’t write fast enough to get it all so your mind begins to make summaries and connections, which improves retention and learning. Another interesting fact is that drawing while taking notes actually improves retention as well. This is especially true if your drawings/doodles reflect connections between what is being taught and your personal experiences.

Chandrasekar Aleman lists 7 Key Benefits of Effective Note Taking.  One that I think he missed is the impact taking notes has on the lecturer, be that in class or your supervisor(s) at work.  When you take notes those speaking feel more confident that you will remember what is being said and that you consider the information important. I know from personal experience both in the classroom and with employees, I’m far more impressed with the student and/or employee when I see them making notes.

Here are some things I have discovered along the way that will improve your note-taking.

  1. Find a medium that works for you.  I started out taking notes in a standard spiral bound notebook, but have moved completely to taking notes by hand on my iPad Pro using the Apple Pen in the app: Notability. I can’t say enough about this app and encourage you to check out this VIDEO. Notability works fine on any iPad and with any stylus, although I prefer a microfiber stylus.  Notability gives you the ability to organize your material and keep it all with you. It also if fully searchable, even in the handwritten aspect.
  2. If you don’t have iPad or prefer to use paper, then I recommend you use an app like OneNote or Evernote, which I have touched on in other posts, and save copies of your notes, with appropriate tags by taking a picture of each page of your notes.  By including the tags you can more easily find the information when you need it and by using the cloud service, you stand less chance of losing your notes or not having them when you need them.
  3. Take notes while you are reading as well. This can make a big difference come test time.
  4. Adopt your own personal code within your notes. For instance, if you feel something needs immediate action (e.g. “look up the economic influence of Eisenhower”), circle it and put a star beside it.  Anything you can do to make your notes organized and emphasize the parts which you feel are more important will enhance learning.
  5. Try using a brain map for taking notes.  A brain map starts with the topic under discussion and branches out with satellites into supporting information.  This method can be particularly effective for opening up questions about how the information connects and will allow you greater insight. It also improves retention.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of taking notes in class for you personally in your quest to achieve your academic goals. Our goal is your success, but this is an area where your effort can make a big difference in achieving that success, both in the classroom and beyond.

Using the Cloud Effectively

I would consider this to be one of the most important tips for anyone, but especially for students. I’m still a student, although not in a formal program, as I am constantly learning and adding information. Two of my Strength’s Finder strengths are related to this: Learner and Input. The largest problem we face is how to effectively manage the information that comes to us through our classes and life in general.  I have four strategies for you:

Here is a quick summary of each and how I use them:

Dropbox. It has a downloadable application for your computer which makes it appear as another folder for you to save files to.  What happens in the background is that it automatically syncs with the cloud so my data is always backed up. I use this for all my personal files and rarely store anything to a different folder on my computer.  It also has cross-platform compatibility so I can access those files from my android phone, my iPad, or where ever I can access a web browser.

Google Drive. Google Drive also stores files and has an application for the computer which makes it available for storing documents/files, which are synced automatically with the cloud.  It also has cross-platform compatibility so it has apps for Android, iOS. What I like about Google Drive are the build in applications, e.g. word processor, spreadsheets, presentation, plus a bunch of others.  These apps are all built for collaboration so multiple people can work on them at the same time from various locations. Very Cool and Very Useful.

Evernote. I’ve been an Evernote fan for a long time.  Essentially think of it as a file cabinet. That would be interesting but think of it as a file cabinet you can easily put things into and carry with you so that you always have access.  In some ways, it is similar to Dropbox, but it has a little different functionality, e.g. you can download a web clipper for your favorite browser and “clip” web pages or articles directly to your Evernote account.  I have a folder titled “Web Articles” full of things I’ve saved over the years.  There is also a download which allows you to “clip” emails to Evernote. Everything is fully searchable and you can allow sharing (which all these programs allow) with whoever you like.  For the geeks among us, IFTTT works great with Evernote.

Finally OneNote – it isn’t linked like the others are, since you already have access to it through your free version of Office 365. (Yes, if you didn’t already know it, as a student at Belhaven University you have access to Office 365). OneNote functions almost exactly like Evernote, including web clipper and email clipping.

Honestly, I use these four applications weekly, if not daily.  I am able to store stuff, share it with whoever I like, find it when I want it. Here is an example. I have a folder in Evernote labeled Recipes.  I take pictures from a magazine of recipes I like with my phone and add them to that folder, or I see it on the web and “clip” it to that folder, or I type it directly into a document, even including a picture of the finished dish.  Then I can share it with others in my family, either one recipe or the whole folder.  Think of the possibilities!  I’ve been doing this for years.

These applications will make you more efficient in practically every aspect of your life.  Because they are well known, most other programs can link easily to them in one way or another.

Financial Aid Update

The Financial Aid Office wants to remind you that spring semester is approaching, however, it’s not too late to complete your 2018-2019 FAFSA www.fafsa.ed.gov and/or submit any documents to studentaid@belhaven.edu to help complete your financial aid process.

FA Quick Tips:

  1. Spring Disbursements typically beginning after the 3rd or 4th of classes. Please make sure you attend all classes!
  2. If you haven’t done so, please make sure you have contacted Student Accounts Office for Direct Deposit assistance. This can be done through your blazenet account.
  3. Please make sure to check with your blazenet account for any and all financial aid updates. This will be listed on your financial aid checklist.

Have a Happy New Year!

Everybody needs a mentor

Really everybody needs multiple mentors across their entire life.  So get as many as possible. I have had a few that deeply influenced my life.  Some of my mentors taught me important lessons about what to do and how to live.  From others I learned lessons about what not to do and practices to avoid.  I don’t think I was very successful at finding or connecting with as many mentors as I could have.  Check out the short video below:



I LOVE Grammarly.  I installed it on my computer some time ago and I wouldn’t want to try to write without it!  It automatically highlights problems in my writing and gives me suggestions to correct them.  There are so many things that Grammarly does I’ve included a link to an article which reviews them HERE. I cannot overstate the importance of getting hooked up with Grammarly as soon as possible – ESPECIALLY SINCE IT IS FREE TO YOU AS A BELHAVEN STUDENT!!!!!

Here is how to get connected. Go to Blazenet, Click on the hamburger menu, then Academics, then Adult and Graduate. From the next screen scroll down and click on APA Assistance under Quick Links. The link for Grammarly will be on the right – just follow the directions.  This could be a game changer!

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This is called the Golden Rule and those who practice this in every part of their life are worth their weight in Gold!  Let’s go one step farther; do unto others as you would like others to do unto your mother, daughter, or other loved one.  When we treat others as we would like to be treated not only do they love it, but there is an inner affirmation that we’ve done the right thing.  Check out the short video below:


Don’t react defensively . . .

Eventually, someone will confront you about some action you’ve taken or something you’ve said.  In your mind this may or may not seem be to fair.  Let me clairify something: your perception at this point is meaningless. Until you understand the perspective of the one confronting you, it will be impossible to move to a resolution.  Check out the short video below:


Why Google Slides works great for group projects

Many times you are assigned a group or team project that will result in a presentation. In many cases, the work is divided up by having one person create the presentation, typically in PowerPoint while others are assigned other parts of the project. The problem with this is that it is usually the same person who creates the PowerPoint and the other students have little or no input into the final presentation, nor do they become familiar with creating presentations.

Google slides is GREAT for team projects because it allows multiple people the opportunity to work on the presentation from different locations AT THE SAME TIME. So, each person in the group could be assigned to create 2-? slides relative to their portion of the content, and everyone can see and comment on each other’s work as the project progresses.  I’ve included a tutorial below from Youtube.  One person would create the project and then share it with the others in the group so everyone can access it and add their portion.

Presenting in class is a snap, just log into your Google Drive account (be sure to open an incognito window in your browser to avoid accidentally leaving your login information) and run the presentation.  You could even add the Instructor to the project so they can see what’s happening.  Even better, it is possible to see who created what, so there is no question about some team members slacking while others do all the work!

Listen more than you talk

Listening more than talking is especially hard for some.  I want to encourage you to not merely listen, but to intensely listen, fiercely listen.  Listen not just to the words being said, but to the emotions behind them, and to the choice of the words used. Ask questions to clarify, and DON’T assume anything.  Really listen until you have heard and then listen some more.