In college classes, lectures are still the primary way faculty deliver information to students. Progress has been made to make college a more collaborative learning process, but lectures are alive and well. Consequently, notetaking is still the primary means of sorting, organizing, and processing this material.
An essential skill for good notetaking is good listening. Most people believe that they are good listeners, but research has shown that most students do not listen well. So first of all, you should try to sharpen your listening skills.
Taking notes during a lecture can be a frustrating, almost overwhelming, job. Getting organized is the best way to deal with the rush of incoming information. Here are some tips:
These tips will help you prepare to take good notes, but what about the actual notes themselves? What should your notebook look like after a lecture? Well, let's hope that it isn't full of doodles in the margins which would indicate that your mind had wandered. In general, it should look a little like an outline with clear main ideas (not labeled with Roman Numerals, of course) and some subpoints with a moderate amount of details and examples. There should probably be some white space so that you add notes from your text or from the next day's lecture.
To learn more about a specific notetaking "system" such as the Cornell Notetaking System, take a look at one of the books in the Study Skills Bibliography to see specific examples of notes.