This post is somewhat a continuation of “A Lesson in Authenticity,” in which I forced myself to purchase an iPad Pro 10.5 so I could conform to the stereotype of the “good student.” Most of the inspiration for my iPad purchase came from… watching YouTube videos.
There has been a social media trend going around where collegiates (usually women) post videos, Tumblr posts, Instagram photos, etc. about their study habits. You may recognize the term studyblr (study + Tumblr). Most of these individuals are using social media to keep themselves accountable, which I think is great! What isn’t so great is the incredible imposter syndrome that it induces in me. It reminds me of a time when I cleaved to others’ expectations way too much. It reminds me of a time when peer pressure caused me to conform to the “generally accepted” way of doing things instead of what worked best for me.
Here’s the thing: on paper, I’m a terrible student. I’m in graduate school, and I never take notes. If I do, it’s usually a few phrases jotted down in a text file. I don’t complete all the readings; I skim for important details. But guess what? This is how I work. This is how I’m most effective. Even though I secretly envy the cute collegiates talking about taking notes on their iPad, that’s not me, and it will never be me.
In high school, we were forced my teachers to use certain notetaking styles (e.g. the dreaded Cornell notes). In college, several of my professors would give me questioning looks when I opted to take notes on a netbook (am I showing my age?) When I attended meetings on the first day of my internship, with laptop in hand instead of pen and paper, I got a stern lecture. I believe one of my friends even shared a study with me that claimed writing by hand was more effective than taking typed notes (which may be true over the majority of a population, but doesn’t necessarily apply every individual!) The message through the ages was the same: your method of notetaking is unacceptable.
But why? The truth was, when I switched largely to typed notes, my grades increased. When I stopped taking so many notes and actually focused on the professor or engaged in the class, I understood concepts better. Instead of jotting down everything my boss said, I had my to-do list app open on my laptop to directly enter the actionable items. In many of my classes, I actually take notes directly on Quizlet, therefore skipping the intermediate step of rereading notes and making flashcards.
When I stopped trying to conform to what others thought I should do, and actually pursued the things I needed, I found myself much happier and more effective. This method has worked for me. And because it has worked well for me, I don’t believe that others have the right to shun me based on a method that I have perfected over the years.
(Something else to think about: This doesn’t just pertain to notetaking.)