Tips for Taking Good Notes!!

Hello everybody! The start of the semester is under way and most of you have probably figured out that SC200 isn’t like your usual college course. This isn’t going to be a class where you plug and chug some numbers, or read some sections of a textbook to find the answer. There’s going to be lots of critical thinking, pondering, skepticism, and definitely some confusion along the way. The great thing about this class is that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on course materials or textbooks.

No need to bring your own notebook (if you want, you can but it’s not necessary). The handouts that are available in class are more than enough to scribble your notes on. Now you are probably wondering what to write, how much to write, when to write, etc. I will go over all that but first, let me stress one thing you should do before you start taking notes.


Sounds obvious right? You’d be surprised how many people disappear throughout the course of the semester. Here’s some reasons to come to class:

1. Attendance is part of your grade. If you really want to blow off 10% of your grade and go party, ignore this. Seriously, who’s stopping you?!

2. There is vital information that is being said by Andrew that you aren’t going to get from just reading the slides on Angel. Andrew posts the class slides on Angel after each class for everyone’s benefit, especially the ones that actually missed class for a legitimate reason. But the slides are just a basis of what is being taught on that day. You should be present to record your interpretation of Andrew’s teachings. You’ll remember things a lot more if you physically pick up your writing utensil and write things yourself.

Now that I’ve taken care of coming to class, let’s go over how you should effectively take notes for SC200:

  1. Don’t act like a stenographer. There’s no need to write down everything that is being said. That just takes the fun out of class and isn’t even efficient. There’s no need to write down that this specific type of worm is 2mm long and has infected 1.3 billion people. If you do spend the time writing down every detail, chances are you aren’t going to write fast enough to keep up with everything Andrew says AND you will miss out on the important stuff.  You know, the stuff you need to know for the tests. So what is the important stuff?
  2. Look for recurring themes. Big picture lessons. Over the course of the semester, there are many big concepts that are going to be emphasized over many topics. Concepts that Andrew will repeat (*hint hint*). For example, the relationship between causality and correlation was stressed multiple times when I took the class last year, and will most likely be a factor this semester. Look for why Andrew is talking about a topic. Why is Andrew talking about wormy kids being stupid? What’s he getting at? There are morals/lessons with every topic that will be discussed throughout the semester.
  3. Underline, highlight, color code, star, bold, UPPERCASE LETTERS. Don’t just write your words on a piece of paper. Make them memorable. Summarize into your own words if you want. Make connections from class to events that happened to you in real life. You will understand the material better if the material means something to you.
  4. Listen to Andrew. There are times when Andrew will literally tell you to drop your pencils and just listen to the story. An hour and a half is a long time to sit still and listen to a professor, I know. But we promise we will try our best not to be boring. Some of the topics are actually interesting and are dependent on what you guys want to learn about.

Remember, there are many resources for your use if you are stuck or confused about anything. The other TAs’ and I are getting paid to help so please increase our salaries by asking questions. All jokes aside, best of luck to you guys. Check out Brian and Sarah’s advice on how to be successful in this class.

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