To Paper or Not to Paper

I don't remember taking many notes per se in high school, but all the same, most everything done in class was done on paper. I may have taken a computer to Kayhi only once or twice, using it very very briefly, and I had my laptop for about the last year and half I was there.

To great extent, I didn't think about ever bringing my computer to high school because pretty much no one else did - and I would never want to stick out like that, as if I was showing my possession off. But also, I thought it would be a hassle, probably more trouble than it was worth.

Thus, when I came to college and asked myself whether I should take lecture notes on paper or on my computer, I decided, for a variety of reasons, to be completely technology-free whenever I went to class (aside of course from the occasional use of my phone).

As it is, I've got a pretty good system going: For every class I have a three-ring binder, with all my papers hole-punched and placed in the binder chronologically. In class, I take notes on a piece of paper - though sometimes a lecture with lots of good stuff will get to two.

All the same, there are times when I doubt whether how I do things is the best way to go about it. Many people use computers to take notes in lecture, and though I really do appreciate the simplicity and ease of working only with paper, there is one fact that really puts me ill at ease: speed.

Scribbling my very fastest, I can handwrite at a maximum speed of 30 words per minute. I tested this  myself, and other sources confirm that this is really about as fast as it gets. My typing, on the other hand, can easily be at least 60 wpm, anytime I like - while sustaining 30 wpm handwriting for a long period of time is impossible, and I never write that fast anyway.

So, basically my worry is that if I took notes on my computer instead of on paper, I would actually be able to get a lot more written down and wouldn't miss as much of my professors' lectures while transforming what they say into notes. Perhaps it's good that I have to constantly summarize and change what my professors say in order to handwrite it efficiently. (Copying down more of their exact words might not be as mentally stimulating!) On the other hand, since I probably only write things down at a quarter of the speed professors can talk, there is plenty that I miss, even when I'm summarizing well. What I think would be great is if I could write in shorthand - but this takes years to master, and I don't think I'd commit to that.

Finally, it's important to consider the paper itself. I do like saving all my schoolwork - and thus I have filled nearly a whole file cabinet at home (along with many other things of mine not class related). I'm just as ok with saving things in digital form, though. It used to be I would write random ideas down on scraps of paper; now I put them in Microsoft Word documents. Recently I bought some more paper for myself - and it was pretty expensive. I do like saving money, and it seems I could do that by using my computer more.

The whole question of going more paperless is likely to knock around in my head for quite a while more. I wonder if I might start next semester.

Images: My three most recent papers, constituting nearly 50 printed pages.

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