Author Archives: Heidi Spitzig

The road to college is often a stressful time, and it is no different for Millennials who are about to embark on the journey. Howe and Strauss (2003) defined seven character traits of this generation and how these traits factor into the college admissions process. The traits of the Millennial cohort include the following: Feeling special Being sheltered Having great confidence Being team-oriented Holding conventional and traditional beliefs Feeling great pressure Attaining high-achievement Combine all these traits together and it becomes a formula for an incredibly stressful college planning time. According to Howe and Strauss (2003), Millennials are different from Boomers or Generation X-ers in that they feel that “their problems are the nation’s problems, that their future is the country’s future” (p. 2). This is a responsibility that Millennials take on with great pride, but feeling weight of an entire country’s future is a heavy burden to bear! Millennials…

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Not only is taking notes a smart way to engage with anything you are trying to learn, but in some ways, taking notes actually makes us smarter. So be smart and do what good note-takers do. Even better, avoid the habits and strategies good note-takers DON’T use:   DON’T write down what the teacher is saying verbatim People think about 450 words per minute. Yet we can only speak about 130 words per minute and only write about 25 words per minute. There’s no possible way apart from professional shorthand to write down everything a speaker says. Learning to use abbreviations will allow more information to be transcribed on the page, but again, the most essential skill in note-taking comes from learning how to actively listen to what the speaker is saying. With practice, those 450 words per minute running through a person’s brain can be formulated into main ideas…

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Now that we know that taking good notes makes us smarter, we want to learn how to, you know, take good notes! When discussing note-taking, there are good strategies and there are bad strategies. Once you know how good note-takers approach this essential task, you can move on to what they actually do when taking great notes:   DO choose a method of note-taking and use it consistently You should develop a note-taking system that suits your learning style. If you don’t have a note-taking system, an academic coach can help you formulate one. Many people have great success with using the Cornell note-taking system and adapting it to their personal learning style. Others prefer to use mind-maps or graphic images to record new information. Some like to jazz up their notes with coded colors using markers or post-it notes. Whichever system is most effective for you, the essential skills…

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The secret to good note-taking actually has little to do with note-taking. The people who get the most out of their notes are people who know how to think critically and how to be good listeners. Whether you outline, map, chart, box, or Cornell, your note-taking style represents only part of the process. If you want to get the most out of your notes, do what the masters do:   Good note-takers show up prepared. Whenever possible, critical thinkers familiarize themselves with new material before it is presented. They read their text or do some background research to create a schema from which to analyze new material. This preparation frees up their cognitive process from simply absorbing new information to thinking about how the new information relates to what they already know and why the new information is important from a contextual perspective. Good note-takers know what’s important. Because critical…

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Taking effective notes is a skill that is essential for academic success. However, most people have never learned to take notes in a way that is useful to them. In high school, teachers often give out review sheets, handouts, and worksheets to study from. This sets many students up for a stressful freshman year in college when professors most likely won’t be handing out study materials and expect students to apply critical thinking and conceptual understanding to what’s being covered in class. A study conducted by education researchers Fisher and Harris (1974) showed that students who do not practice good note-taking scored significantly lower on recall tasks. Those students also scored lower on exams than students who did practice good note-taking. Here are some reasons why good note-takers are smarter than their non-note-taking peers:   1. Good note-takers concentrate better. Think of effective note-taking as the brain’s training ground for…

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