By Mirella Mendoza
BHC counselor offers students tips and tricks for staying focused and effective when taking notes.
College can be a difficult time, between juggling classes, homework and a personal life. Learning how to effectively take notes and listen actively can be just as difficult.
On Oct. 13, Maribel Peña-Lyons, Brookhaven College counselor, offered a SkillsShop on the importance of taking notes. She shared strategies to help students improve their note-taking skills.
Peña-Lyons started the lecture with a question: “Why take notes?”
her answer was that taking notes can help students improve their grades. If students review their notes effectively, the information can be retained in long-term memory, Peña-Lyons said.
She gave precise strategies to help minimize stress while taking notes in class. She suggested using abbreviations for certain words, writing shorter sentences, highlighting important facts instead of conclusions and summarizing the information in the student’s own words to make sure they understand.
Ashley Eisenkramer, a student, said she finds it helpful to use bullet points to highlight the main topics.
Peña-Lyons said it might also be helpful to record audio of the lectures if the professor allows it, making it easier to recall important information that might not have been written down.
Eisenkramer said philosophy is the hardest class she is taking.
“I take excessively dense notes. I watch the professor’s body language and listen closely to the examples he gives us during lectures and try to apply them to my life so I can remember them easily,” she said. “I take notes when I’m reading the textbook and highlight things that the professor touched on during class lectures, and I also audio record every class.”
Peña-Lyons gave students two ways to effectively take notes. The first method is to format a series of questions and fill in the answers to ensure the material has been properly understood.
The second is the Cornell method, which consists of dividing a page into three sections. On the left side is a cue column where one can write questions on certain topics for that day. On the right side is the note-taking section. At the bottom of the page, one summarizes what they think are the most important concepts.
Marylynn Bonilla, a student, said her hardest class is math.
She said she looks over examples in her book to help her but still feels that studying for math is difficult. Peña-Lyons touched on this subject, suggesting to clearly writing down the lesson and the math problems or any formulas given. She suggested explaining any mathematical signs to eliminate confusion during review.
Whether using highlighters or the Cornell method, Peña-Lyons said taking notes can help students stay organized, concentrate in class and encourage active listening rather than passive listening.