Save Your Old Notes
Many students are so relieved when the semester is over they throw away all their notes. That’s a serious mistake. You’ve worked hard taking those notes! And, more importantly, you never know when you might need to refer back to them. Be a packrat. You never know what you will need again.
Be assured that many of the courses you take will interconnect, particularly those within your major or concentration. As you move on to more advanced levels of coursework, you’ll find you need to refer to notes from earlier courses to refresh your memory about certain key points or fundamentals.
You also may take courses that seem completely unrelated to one another, only to find that some point or issue will come up that you have previously addressed elsewhere. For example, you may be reading a novel in an English class that refers to specific events from your history class. If you’ve taken a history class about that period, you can read your notes and get more information about those events, which in turn can help you understand the novel and allow you to contribute more to class discussions. Imagine how impressed your teacher will be if, in class discussion, you can provide some of that background information. So save your notes!
Here’s how to keep old notes organized. At the end of the semester, neatly label and put each set of notes someplace safe and accessible. Consider purchasing a file cabinet to store them in or large clear plastic containers you can easily buy at an office supply store. If you’ve been using a loose-leaf notebook, you can take the pages out of the binder and put them in a folder. That way you can reuse the binder next semester. Just make certain you label the folder with the course title and year.
“My roommate had it all figured out when it came to note-taking. It never dawned on me to look at my notes after class was over. I believed that note-taking was something I did only when a professor spoke to me. Once I watched her master the course content and be able to explain it to me, she shared with me her secret: taking notes outside of class, too. She showed me her process and now I make better connections between my lectures and outside class work. It really works!”
—Sandra L., Junior
In addition to saving old notes, consider holding on to some of your required textbooks and other course materials. It’s tempting at the end of the semester to sell all your books back to the bookstore—especially given how expensive books are these days. If there is any chance you will refer to a book—particularly if it was used in a course that is part of your major—it is probably worthwhile to hold on to it.
One option is to sell only the textbooks and keep all other books. Textbooks tend to be more expensive than other books, and you get back a significant amount of money. Other books often bring only a fraction of the original cost (especially if they are paperbacks).