University Note Taking

I had been asked by a few people what system I use to take uni notes, and as you can see from my previous post I prefer a paper based mode.

This is my system, it is not perfect, it is a lot of doubling up but it works for me.

The first step of my process consist of printing lecture notes. I like printing the PowerPoint slides/pdf files provided. I tend to print them 9 to a page – cost effective and still easy to read. I find that if you print them landscape you have a bit more room to annotate during the lecture. Even if the lecture is external or I’m listening online I still do this, as I highlight and scribble quick notes besides the relevant slide.

Next step is to go and attempt to read the relevant chapter or readings. I can’t guarantee that I do this every single week. I start off motivated, but motivation often hits a certain level and you don’t do anything but the bare minimum to scrape by (now you are living the true uni student lifestyle). I like to make notes by either highlighting the textbook or just jotting down relevant phrases from the readings.

I then in an ideal world sit and combine my notes from the readings and lecture slides into ‘topic summaries’. I usually do this on my computer, about a page worth of bullet points that lists the key concepts of the topic. Depending on your unit you can work through the learning objectives (either listed in your unit outline or in the lecture slides) to ensure that you have covered the right key concepts of the chapters. The trick is, if its not in the learning objectives they can’t examine you on it.

Now this process may seem annoying and doubling up, but trust me if you have a content heavy subject you will be cheering when it comes to exam time as you will have a good solid basis of a framework to cram for your exam.

The trick is to do a lot of prep work throughout the semester, as your notes will come in handy when it comes to exam season.

Hope that helps a few of you entering into the university world. 🙂

 

 

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University Organisation

It is safe to say that I’m not the greatest university student. I am not super smart and extremely academic, but alas I have been there long enough (just entering 3rd year) to share some tips about organising and the things that I have found most useful.

1. PRINT YOUR UNIT OUTLINE!

Your unit outline is your bible, take it to class carry it around learn it, live it, breath it. Hopefully you have a good unit outline, I have had some that aren’t very well detailed, it should give you a run down of due dates and what topics will be covered in each week.

 

2. WALL CALENDAR 

these are my saving grace! I have on above my desk and it is constantly a good source of motivation. I bought this from Kikki K years ago, they have similar pads in stock all year.

3. COLOUR CODING

I’m a visual person, colours represent a big part of my cognitive processes.

I colour code my folders, the pens I use in my diary, page flags, even my assignment title pages are in the same colour as the ‘unit colour’

4. ELECTRONIC VS WRITTEN

This is a big topic, however I will say there are pros and cons to using both methods. I have tried both and almost every other system over organising notes, I find that personally I work much better with writing my notes. I tend to remember more once I have written it down. I once read that you are more likely to retain information you have written down as there is a connection between muscle memory and the brain.

Another tip, which admittedly does throw out the colour coding system, is to highlight in orange. Apparently the brain significantly remembers more if important information is in orange.

5. GET A DIARY

It goes without saying, get yourself a diary. Use a paper based or electronic system, completely up to you. But knowing when things are due is essential!

I love my Filofax, it is my bible…I even scale down my unit outlines, print them and punch them to put into my Filofax.

6. CREATE A STUDYING ROUTINE

Hopefully, you have created your timetable, fingers crossed you got the classes you wanted – it is always such a struggle.

I like to create a study routine,

i.e Monday mornings – drive to uni early and before class complete readings for xyz, Wednesday afternoon read chapters for subject abc.

I try my hardest to stick to it – but if it gets sidelined don’t beat yourself up over it.

7. STUDY IN THE SAME PLACE

Something I have learnt in my time as a uni student, is that I’m not very productive at home. I am more productive in the library of my campus. I also have this habit of studying for one subject in one area of the library and studying for another subject in another area of the library. You could really apply this to any setting – find an area that is productive for the work you need to do. Although on tip is not to sit in the library when writing an essay and you want to sing. #truestory

8. MUSIC

I adore music, it is always a key factor in my day. I’m always the girl with her headphones in when sitting alone. Find some form of music that doesn’t distract you too much, but is enough that there is no deafening silence. Silence almost kills me! I need some form of noise. I find that radio stations like Triple J are great, they play a wide range of music, most of it you probably wouldn’t have heard of so it is a good background noise to have.

9. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE USE OF COFFEE

There is a comforting warmth of wrapping your hands around a mug (or in most of my cases a paper cup) full of coffee. It is the pick me up in my day. I must say that university coffee is fantastic, they know we are all stressed out and need a big caffeine hit, and it is usually the cheapest coffee you will find!

And you can play the game of ‘how will they spell my name this time’ – you can follow me on instagram to see how my progress is going lol.

10. GET TO KNOW YOUR TEACHERS

I must admit, I was very shy starting university. It was a whole new experience, I had no friends there and really wasn’t 100% sure I what was going on. I felt sorry for the teachers asking questions to a unresponsive class, so I stuck my head up to answer a question.

The great thing is that teachers appreciate the input, it makes their job easier. Even if you are wrong in the answer you provide, it creates momentum for the teaching staff. I have always tried to form a good basis of a relationship with the teaching staff. They are one of the key factors in your success of the unit. I have been lucky enough to rotate through a handful of teaching staff that teach the units in my degree so having that relationship is a great help.

 

On that note an important thing to remember is the trial and error is the only way you can find a method that suits you. Although I do love a good suggestion, if you have any send them my way.

Enactus – Inspiring Leadership Program

This week I attended my first training session after being accepted in to a mentoring role in the Inspiring Leadership Program run by Enactus at Macquarie University.

This program had a rather odd application process, most university programs are just an application and you are accepted. This required a resume and a cover letter.

Upon arriving to the training day we all shuffled into the computer room and were provided with the traditional ‘what’s your name? what degree are you studying? and a random fact about yourself’ I can tell you that our group of mentors come from such a diverse background, it really is rather amazing.

So in a nutshell what is this program about? Well, it is mentors who go to low socio-economic schools and speak to a range of school aged kids who the teachers may feel need a little bit of help in establishing a career path after school. It is our job as mentors to listen, learn and grow with these young people who have a whole range off things going on in their life. Suggest things they might find interesting i.e applying to uni, tafe, obtaining a job after school.

As mentors we work with schools in the Central Coast and Western Sydney area. I am excited and a little intimidated by doing this, talk about removing yourself out of your comfort zone! I can’t wait for further training days and for the program to actually get underway.

If you are at university and are interested in something similar, definitely Google your university and Enactus it is such a great opportunity to enrich your life and hopefully the lives of others who may need a little direction.