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Struggling to Keep Up With Lectures in College? This Tip Will Help!

One challenge that many students face head-on in their first year of college is professor lectures. The fast-paced nature of lectures can cause students to feel like they are racing against time to capture every main idea before class ends. In this article, we'll explore why lectures can be a real hurdle & our best tip to help struggling note takers.

  1. The Information Avalanche

College lectures are like intellectual roller coasters, with professors introducing concepts, theories, and insights at a fast pace. The sheer volume of information discussed in a lecture can bury students under a mountain of facts, ideas, and explanations. It becomes a significant and time-consuming task to sift through 3-4 week's worth of lectures to identify the key points that will be crucial for exams and assignments.

  1. Limited Processing Time

In the blink of an eye, professors can transition from one complex topic to another, leaving students with limited processing time. While some may argue that this rapid-fire approach to teaching simulates real-world decision-making, it also places a considerable cognitive load on students. They must not only comprehend the material on the spot but also decide what information is worth jotting down. The challenge lies in striking a delicate balance between understanding the content and capturing it for future reference.

  1. Note-Taking Dilemmas

Fast-paced lectures turn note-taking into an Olympic sport. Students juggle pens, notebooks, and laptops, attempting to transcribe information at the speed of thought. The struggle is real when it comes to deciding what to write down and what to leave out. This can create incomplete or hastily scribbled notes, making it challenging for students to review and reinforce their understanding later on when studying for an exam.

  1. Engagement versus Absorption

The rapid pace of lectures can create a tension between engagement and absorption. Students may find themselves torn between actively participating in the class discussion and passively absorbing the information. In an attempt to keep up with the speed of the lecture, some students may prioritize note-taking over thoughtful engagement, potentially missing out on the deeper understanding that comes from active participation.

  1. Cumulative Stress

As the semester progresses, the cumulative effect of fast-paced lectures can take a toll on students' stress levels. The constant pressure to keep up with the rapid flow of information in 4 or 5 courses, coupled with the fear of falling behind, can lead to academic burnout.

There is Hope!

When students struggle with note taking during a fast paced lecture, utilizing note taking technology can be a lifesaver. Note taking applications that record lectures and transcribe the audio into typed notes can allow students to remain engaged during a lecture without the stress of listening, writing, and comprehending all at once. Many students tell us that recording software such as Glean and Otter have been life changing for their college courses. Other students that learn most effectively by handwriting prefer the Livescribe Pen which also records audio for students to review and listen again outside of class.

Technology tools can help bridge the gap in note taking skills that often exists when students graduate from high school and begin college courses.

If you're student has poor note taking skills and may benefit from note taking technology, check out our assistive technology services. We also have more articles and videos to help students and families understand how technology can support college success.


Navigating fast-paced college lectures is undeniably a common challenge of college freshman. The information overload, limited processing time, note-taking dilemmas, the engagement-absorption dilemma, and the cumulative stress that accompanies these lectures all contribute to the challenge. Note taking technology can be a game changing tool for students to ensure that fast-paced nature of lectures doesn't become a barrier to meaningful learning experiences.

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