Posted in Opinions

When you buy lecture notes online, you only cheat yourself

Writing-cramps suck, but so do terrible grades from zero effort

Image Credits: Pexels (Flickr)

Truth be told, I get a little protective of my notes when scouring eyes peer over shoulders and onto my personal class materials during lecture. Maybe I’m too uptight and I should ease off my exam mode during regular class time, but I am a firm believer of the phrase “You get out what you put in.”

And this is especially true in the case of taking proper and personal notes during class to help achieve a kick-ass grade at the end of the semester.

A recent article in Australia’s The Age investigated the buying and selling of class notes online, following the success of a University of Melbourne student named Alastair Weng. Weng, who is incredibly talented and organized, also sells his notes to other students online. According to him, this allow him to “[help] students understand some weird concepts” while also bringing in a little bit of income on the side.

To me, buying notes to study just seems like a cop-out, and makes a student who has purchased these notes seem lazy. I get it: life gets in the way, time runs out, and suddenly it’s 3 a.m. and you still have no idea what weeks eight to 11 were about. Essentially, you are cheating the system and paying someone else to do the work that you are supposed to do.

As a self-proclaimed keener, I do make the effort to go to every class and take my own notes, not only because I’m paying $177.39 per credit hour, but also because it is the right thing to do. Instead of wasting time (and money) to seek out notes from others, why not just buckle down, go to class, take some notes, and study them?

With no context of what went on during the lecture that day, it might be hard to put the words on the paper together.

It’s clear that this trend is not unique to Australia. Note-selling has become a hot market in the United Kingdom, the United States, and even here in Canada. There are many websites available to help students sell their lecture notes to desperate students at affordable prices.

A quick search turned up that SFU students are also supplying their own notes on various sites. One website in particular allows students to access a vast wealth of notes from about 90 different SFU programs, with specific notes for courses in those programs.

Having this easy way out perpetuates the idea that we don’t have to work hard because there will always be something to fall back on. But what guarantee is there that the notes someone else took will work for you? With no context of what went on during the lecture that day, it might be hard to put the words on the paper together.

Further still, what if (God forbid) the professor changes their lecture material? That would throw those notes and whatever money you spent on them, down the drain. And even if the notes do work out, how well will you really learn the material when someone else has already done the work for you?

The benefits seem to be far greater for those writing up the notes than those using them to pass. Don’t waste your money by buying notes while also spending money taking classes — sit down, roll up your sleeves, and write some damn good notes that would make your mother proud.

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