Paper and pens are your new best friends

Emily Pape

Need to remember something important? Take note of it. Taking notes is the most basic way to retain information you learn in class. However, the way you take the notes is what’s crucial. It seems that you cannot walk into a classroom without seeing a bright screen in front of every student’s face. 65 percent of college students claim that typing notes is better and helps their learning, but losing touch with handwriting notes means losing their benefits. 

Nutrition junior Noah Joe is one of many students who use their computers to take notes. “I prefer using my laptop because it allows me to carry less throughout the day and lets me efficiently organize my notes from various classes,” Joe said.

While handwriting notes may take more time and require a little more elbow work, it helps you weed out the important details. A lecture or a PowerPoint can be chock full of information, and handwriting notes forces your brain to decipher what the vital information is. By handwriting notes, your brain is more active — this enhances learning and leads to more focus. Doing so helps retain more information and can make things easier to remember.

Journalism professor Tracy Dahlby only permits students to handwrite their notes in his Fundamental Issues in Journalism course. Dahlby said he doesn’t allow computers or tablets because writing notes by hand is more efficient and beneficial for students.

“It allows students to make quick judgments about what’s important and what’s less important,” Dahlby said. “The act itself helps us retain more knowledge because our mind is already putting it into some primitive framework.”

Having access to a computer or some other form of technology during class also can be distracting. Students who take notes on their personal computers are often susceptible to distractions on the internet.

The first few weeks of college, I typed most of my notes but often found myself distracted by constant emails, assignments for other classes and text messages popping up on my laptop. But being a distraction to yourself isn’t the only risk of taking notes on a laptop. Typing in class can also be distracting to those around you.

“In most of my classes I handwrite my notes in organized notebooks because typing on my laptop is way too distracting,” said journalism freshman Ashley Miznazi. “Sometimes I’ll feel the urge to check my email or Facebook, and if someone next to me is typing, the noise of the keys can be distracting.” 

“I always prefer to write my notes by hand because it helps me to pay attention and retain the information,” said urban studies sophomore Hannah Mann. “You also never know when you are going to have a computer or internet problem, so it’s best just to avoid that problem all together.”

There are definitely some problems with handwriting notes. It takes longer, your hand cramps up and the handwriting may not always be legible. However, it’s been proven to be more effective and beneficial for students when it comes to studying. Students should try to take handwritten notes in classes to see the impact of the results and determine whether it’s something they’ll continue to do or not.

Pape is a journalism freshman from San Antonio.