I noticed that one thing separated me from the rest of the students. No, it was not skin color. It was our notebooks. The notebooks had minor differences in the size, shape and line height, but the contents was what starkly differentiated mine from theirs. My page had a couple inches of white space on the left, a column of bullet points, roman numerals, letters, stars, what have you, and words filled the rest. Lines had different indents and some important words were underlined. My Nigerian mates had no white space on the left and no bullet points. Their notebooks were filled with paragraph after paragraph of full sentences that created an essay. I noticed that the students crammed on each side of me were writing down every word the professor said almost verbatim–well the important sentences anyway– instead of rephrasing it in their own words in shorter form.I asked my friend in my Development Communication class if she learned to take notes by writing down everything the lecturer said. She said the fact is they did not learn to take notes like that but people use that method because of the essay based test format. Also, the lecturer might be dictating directly from his notes, and in that case the students want to get as much information as possible. Also, reading supplements for classes can be difficult or impossible to find sometimes. Many of the books I’m reading in English class-African prose fiction-are not sold at the UI bookstore so it is sometimes in the students’ best interest to capture as many of the professor’s exact words as they can.
Sometimes I feel like a slacker with my bulleted lists and roman numerals. Should I be writing three page essays like my peers every class? Nah, I think I’d rather save ink and prevent severe hand aches.