The Student Room Group

Do you really need a laptop for lectures?

I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;
Original post by pythonpy
I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;


Hey @pythonpy

I had a similar situation when I started uni- my laptop was just too heavy to take to lectures. I was absolutely fine using pen and paper for the first few weeks, but ended up getting a new laptop about 5 weeks in because my notes were accumulating too quickly for me to keep track of them. My laptop was really slow and I was going to need a new one anyway, so I got one that I could use a digital pen on, but lots of people also take notes on i pads and tablets, so if your laptop is going to be alright for a few more years you could consider getting an i pad/tablet specifically for notetaking.

Most people write notes with a digital pen in lectures, but some also type and a few have been using pen and paper for more than a year, so it's worth thinking about what your note-taking style is like before you invest. I would recommend waiting until you've started and can see what the teaching is like/what your coursemates are using. Don't worry about taking really effective notes straight away, you'll need to find what works for you. Most courses pick up slowly so you can always catch up later in the year if you don't manage to get yourself completely sorted before you start!

Nellie (Lancaster Student Ambassador)
Reply 2
No. A pad and pen is fine.
Do you know if your lecturers will be distributing paper lecture notes? If so it's pretty easy to take notes with pen and paper. If not, you may need to get a little more organised in your note-taking but even then you don't really need a laptop.

I went to university with a nice portable laptop and tried taking notes on it a couple of times and actually found myself preferring pencil and paper.
Original post by pythonpy
I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;

Hi!

You can definitely get by with pen and paper. For some of my lectures, I chose that over my laptop as it's easier to write down certain symbols for different maths modules (I have never mastered the keyboard shortcuts for them). I would just say that if you are going for that make sure you have good organisation for it - maybe look into getting some ring binders - because the downside to pen and paper is that a rainstorm or just leaving papers about will be very annoying to sort through / fix.

If you get to university and decide that it's far too annoying to use pen and paper for everything you could look at getting a laptop then!

- Jessica
2nd year, Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence)
I always use pen and paper for lecture notes! I find it also improves my recall compared to using a laptop, and it's easier if you need to sketch a diagram.
Original post by pythonpy
I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;

Hey @pythonpy,

How are you feeling about starting Psychology? I am going into my final year of Psychology in September.

It is a shame to hear about your laptop. In my opinion you can get by with paper and pen but the notes may accumulate a bit quickly. One thing I used to do when I was trying out different ways to make notes was that I wrote down which slide we were on to add some extra notes (anything not on the slides the lecturer was saying). I then downloaded the slides and wrote in my extra notes from my paper onto the slides afterwards. This is what I used for revision. I then changed my way of note taking slightly as I took my laptop in with the slides pre-downloaded and made notes on the bottom instead of trying to figure out which slide we were on. This method works for me because I can focus in the lecture on what the lecturer is saying rather than trying to quickly note everything down, they always make the slides available before a lecture. Your first year is a great time to figure out which method works best for you.

I found it helpful to have a lightweight laptop I could take to the library or any other study spots on campus, that way I wasn't restricted to just working from home. I have also seen other people benefit from a tablet and digital pen when doing lectures but they could not do the stats we needed to do on their tablets so they also had a laptop. When writing essays you may want to consider if you would prefer to read papers on a laptop or iPad/tablet. I would wait a little bit and do some more reading to see which is best for you and what you are going to be using the device for. It might be helpful to ask staff at your university as they might have some recommendations. There might also be schemes and bursaries/grants available to help you financially too as laptops can be very expensive!

I have a MacBook Air and have been using it for the past 2 years. I like it because its lightweight and I can still use the software I need.

Let me know if you have anymore questions and good luck with your studies! :smile:
Alia
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by pythonpy
I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;

Hey there @pythonpy !

It depends on your course really. I personally find for my course I need a laptop because its half creative, half note-taking. For psychology I'm sure you could make it work with a pen and paper and there would be absolutely nothing wrong with that, a lot of students still do it. The only struggles I had with pen and paper is it became difficult when conducting research tasks in seminars. They said to us in the first ever seminar that we needed to make sure we had a laptop or tablet with us in every seminar because we would be breaking away into groups to do research tasks. There's a chance your seminar tutor may say that, but you don't know until you get there. My advice is to wait and use pen and paper for now and then see what your lecturers advise once you get there. You may find you don't need one, or you might have to get a second hand one for the work you're doing.

Hope this helped!
Lucy - Digital Student Ambassador SHU
Original post by pythonpy
I'll be studying my first year of psychology at uni in September. I have a laptop, but it's very old, big and noisy, and I really don't think I'll be able to take it with me to lectures, or out in general (though obviously I can still use it at home). Is it possible to get by with only pens and paper, or should I bite the bullet and drop some money to get a 2nd hand chromebook or something? -_-;

Hi there!
It's completely up to you on how you want to take notes at university, some people find that pen and paper actually help them to remember the content better!
The benefit of having a laptop would be that you are able to have all of your notes with you all of the time and can quickly find them if you need to! I found that having a laptop or an iPad was really helpful for me as I could still handwrite things like I would do on paper, but it was all kept in one place and I always had all of my notes with me.
I would definitely recommend waiting until you have started and giving it a week or two and seeing how you feel as it is a big investment to make!
I hope this helps :smile:

Rebecca
@pythonpy

It would not be advisable to carry around a heavy laptop with you. It will take up too much space in your bag or you will need to take an additional bag, and it will just become burdensome to you.

Also think about charging your laptop. How long does it keep its battery charge for? If you need to have it plugged in all the time, this could be a nuisance depending on where the plug sockets are and how many plug sockets are available for students to charge their laptop in a lecture/seminar.

If your laptop is not running too slowly then you can still make good use of it, it just might not be advisable to bring it to lectures.

At my university, there are laptops that you can borrow from the library. Your university might have a similar thing, so if you did need to bring a laptop to a lecture you could borrow one, though from my experience, when it's been necessary to bring laptops it's been for group work so only one person needed to bring their computer or it's been fine to make use of any digital device e.g. mobile, tablet, or computer.

I normally print slides off and write on them or make notes in a notebook.

Personally, I am quicker taking notes with pen and paper, but everyone is different.

Hope that helps,

Oluwatosin 2nd year student University of Huddersfield

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