February 20th, 2023

Dear Chattanooga State Community,

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about having a calendar to help you keep track of all of the things you have going on in your life and about setting goals to make sure you are aiming for the goals you aspire to in your life. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about something that will help you in your classes: taking notes.

In his book, How to Take Smart Notes, Söhen Ahrens gives some excellent pointers on taking good notes that are especially relevant to academic note-taking.

  1. Focus on capturing the essential ideasDo not try to write down everything you hear or read, focus on capturing the most important concepts and ideas. Focusing on crucial ideas will help you stay engaged and understand the material better.
  2. Use your own words. When taking notes, try paraphrasing the information in your own words. Using your own words will help you understand the material better and make it easier to remember later. If you can’t do it in real-time as the teacher is speaking, review your notes after class and rewrite them in your own words.
  3. Make connections. As you take notes, try to make connections between the different pieces of information you’re learning. Making connections will help you to see how everything fits together and make it easier to remember the material. Don’t just think about the class you’re in, but about other courses you’re taking or classes you’ve taken in the past.
  4. Review your notes regularly. Make sure to review your notes regularly—this is key and helps with all the steps above. The review will help you reinforce your understanding of the material and commit it to long-term memory.
  5. Organize your notes. This tip is actually from Tiago Forte’s Building a Second Brain, but it’s vital as you work to make connections. First, consider storing your notes in the note-taking app on your phone or computer. Then, consider ways to organize them, like hashtags. For instance, if I were to put a hashtag on this note, I might add #notes or #organization. Then, later when I’m searching for something about notes, all of my notes with the hashtag note would show. The organization of your ideas is instrumental in connecting ideas.

Effective note-taking is an essential skill that requires capturing, organizing, and retrieving information. These tips can help you take better notes, retain information for the long term, and achieve academic success. I hope these insights are helpful, and I encourage you to try implementing them in your note-taking practice.

Student Resources


We have tons of resources to help you complete your goals from academic support to general support. Tutoring is an important service that can help you succeed in your classes. From writing to math tutoring and many subjects in between, we can help you pass or ace your classes.

Learn More About Tutoring

For a complete list of student resources, visit the Student Resources page.

Get Published!

Chattanooga State’s Literary Magazine, The Phoenix, is now accepting submissions for poetry, short fiction, nonfiction, art, and photography. The deadline is March 7, 2023. Learn more.

Fall 2023 Academic Calendar is Now Available

The Fall 2023 Academic Calendar is now available. Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the Fall 2023 calendar.

Students, We Want to Hear About Your ChattState Experience!

Very soon, students across the nation will be participating in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) to share their college experiences and help shape their college's future. Your responses to our survey are very important in helping us understand your experiences and improve ChattState.

Keep an eye on your @my.chattanoogastate.edu email this week for your invitation to complete the survey. It will take about 15 minutes but could help students experience a better ChattState for years to come.

Tennessee Aquarium College Days

College students and employees can get discounts to the Tennessee Aquarium during the month of February.

Rebecca Ashford, Ed.D.