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*Introductory Guide for Grad Students

This guide is intended to help you be a successful graduate student at Illinois State University.

Tools for Staying Organized

Office 365  Don't forget--every ISU Student has access to this

Access through MY ISU (top of every ISU Webpage

Read the Taking Notes tab for thoughts about Livescribe-a smartpen

Also--look through the information in the Planners tab

True--you've been taking notes before now and you've a 'system' that seems to work for you.

However, Grad School will now require not only more notes, but ones that likely have deeper content, more complexity.

Try this system, at least at first, and see if it helps keep track of the main points, connects the dots within the content. It might seem silly or maybe too obvious but . . . give it a go.

The Cornell Note Organization Format

Best of both worlds

Cognitive researchers say the act of writing strengthens the connection between understanding of the material itself and the retention of the information; helping turn mere information into knowledge.  You can still write but capture the material electronically--for instance into OneNote.  These are a bit expensive but may just work better for you over your career.  Many also capture the lecture itself and allow you to add your thoughts.

Try a Livescribe SmartPen


Good Outlines are still useful

Concept Mapping

So, so much reading!  And, you want to read it all but . . . there are some 'tricks' to managing both the amount (deciding what really must be read) and then, make thatt really count.

Deep Reading

Marginalia those "notes to self" people write around the edges (margins) in a book.  Like anything in this Grad School endeavor, there is a knack to them. 

Writing them helps you "interact or interrogate the material" which is really just thinking about what you are reading, turns your thoughts into both questions and hopefully, into excellence in your writing.


Life gets complicated--maybe you need both a paper and electronic organizer/planner

Other tools people find useful though more for content than your schedule:

OneNote (available through your Office 365--sign into MyIllinoisState)  You can organize pretty much everything just as you would in a paper notebook

Evernote Capture, organize, and share notes from anywhere--looks/works similar to email organization.  Really helpful to capture websites and images.  Basic account is free.


Source Management Systems