I love taking notes. I'm a dork I know, but there's something about looking at my nice neat notebook that makes me feel accomplished. I used to spend almost all of class in high school making sure my notes looked perfect: evenly spaced, properly highlighted, and free from cross-outs and white out.
College is... different.
In college professors don't have the time to go over information or to stay on powerpoint slides long enough to copy them down neatly, so I had to adapt. It was hard at first, but I think I've found a method that works and can help anyone else who obsesses over the neatness of their notes like me.
When I go to class I bring a notebook and a pen. No highlighters, or Post-it tabs, just paper and a pen. I start writing when the professor starts talking and I stop when the lecture's over. Never taking my pen away from the paper ensures that I won't miss any of the information that is being thrown my way. I don't worry about neatness (which is much harder than I thought), but instead I focus on content. I only use a pen because pencil can be harder to read, and if i take the time to highlight I may miss important information. Instead I simply circle, star, or underline anything that seems to be an important concept. I scheduled my courses so that I'd have at least an hour between each class giving me just enough time to copy my notes for the day neatly.
I'm trying something new this year with my note-taking and that's using the software One Note. It's a Microsoft software but it works perfectly on my Mac. It's the perfect system for typing your notes because it doesn't restrict formatting allowing you to basically copy your notes exactly as you would have handwritten them. It also allows me to always have access to my notes with the convenient iPad and iPhone Apps that sync to my computer. Always being able to see my notes is amazing, especially since you don't have to lug around all your notebooks to do so.
If you are the same overly OCD notetaker like I was then try something different. Let go of the obsessive need to write in your perfect handwriting. A little imperfection can go a long way in a college lecture. Just make sure you give yourself time to study your notes. I never used to see the vale of studying, because didn't I already do that in class? But studying your own notes and printouts of the class powerpoint ca become extremely beneficial. Plus having all of your notes in one place, such as One Note or a notebook or binder solely for your re-writen notes, can be a lifesaver during finals week.
Don't be afraid to be imperfect once in a while, it could benefit you in the long run.
Happy Note Taking