Pros and Cons of Sharing Your Notes

By Alyssa Laffitte on October 28, 2020

Universities are now encouraging students to collaborate with each other since the modern workplace is highly based on collaboration. After all, collaboration requires that the best minds get together to come up with the best ideas and solutions to problems. When you have many people on the team, you’ll likely have people with various strengths and weaknesses. Collaboration is teamwork that encourages everyone’s strengths and compensates for their weaknesses. Students are especially encouraged to collaborate when they take notes for their classes. When many people take notes together, those notes will be more thorough and complete than notes taken only by one person. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to sharing your notes with your classmates. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of sharing your class notes.

Image via Isorepublic.com 

Exchanging notes helps foster collaboration

A major pro of exchanging notes with your classmates is that it helps foster collaboration. You and a few friends can use a collaborative program, like Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive, to write notes at the same time. You will be able to see each other’s edits in real-time, so you will be able to work together to create a comprehensive, thorough collection of notes for your class. This way, everyone is putting their heads together. You will all be sharing your notes with each other. Collaborating while taking notes is advantageous because if there’s a concept you don’t understand, chances are good that someone else in the group does. They will be able to help you see your “blind spots.” Similarly, if you understand something that someone else doesn’t, you can help them see their “blind spots.”

Similarly, if you missed out on a certain part of the lecture, it’s likely someone else in the group can cover it for you. This system uses everyone’s strengths to the advantage of the whole group and makes sure the notes are complete. It covers all the bases and makes sure you don’t gloss over any of the material. Of course, these notes that everyone contributed to will be a great resource when it’s time to study for tests. Clearly, a pro of exchanging notes with your classmates is that it helps foster collaboration. After all, it’s better to have multiple people helping you take notes rather than taking them alone.

Sharing notes is a good way to make friends

College life is much easier when you have friends in your classes. Another pro of sharing notes is that it will help you make friends with your classmates. After all, if you give someone your notes, it’s likely you will make a good impression on them. They will think of you as a nice person, which will break the ice and make it easy to become their friend. You can give them your notes when they ask for them, and they can give you theirs when you need them. The friends you make when you share your class notes are the ones that will study with you before a test, or the ones you can pair up with when you have a group project. When you need to miss a class, you can ask your friend for an update or for any important information you might have missed. You will help each other do well in the class and get through the semester. In other words, a good reason to share your notes is that it will help you make friends in your classes, and college is better with friends!

People could become dependent on your notes

A con of sharing your notes is that people could start to become dependent on them. You don’t want your classmates to stop taking their own notes because they know they can just ask you for yours. You want there to be an equal exchange of notes, not for your classmates to be using your notes all the time. You can have a rule that you won’t share your notes unless your classmate will share their notes with you, except for certain extenuating circumstances, of course (like sickness). The notes you exchange don’t have to be for the same material. For example, you can share your notes on chapter 1 with them, and they can share their notes on chapter 2 with you. With this system, you can encourage more of a “give and take” approach, rather than encourage your classmates to become dependent on your notes. Clearly, a major disadvantage of sharing your notes is that your classmates might become dependent on your notes rather than on their own.

Sharing notes will motivate you to take better notes

Another advantage of sharing your notes is that it will motivate you to take better notes. If you write notes only for yourself, you won’t feel pressured to make them organized, well thought out, and complete. This is why your notes might be a series of abbreviations and scribbles since you’re the only one who will be reading them. But on the other hand, if you know you will be sharing your notes, you will make sure the notes are clear, complete, organized, and thorough. Of course, you will also want to make sure they are organized and aesthetically pleasing. You will want to give your classmates the best notes you can, not your scribbling. Your scribbled, abbreviated notes will probably be helpful to you, but they won’t be helpful to your friends. If you do it enough, you will get into the habit of taking better notes. In other words, sharing your notes is advantageous because it will encourage you to take good notes.

Your notes might not fit your classmates’ needs, and vice versa

A disadvantage of sharing your notes with your classmates is that your notes may not meet your classmates’ needs, and your classmate’s notes might not meet your needs. For example, their notes might be more focused on a concept that you already understand well and might gloss over a concept that you don’t understand well. Of course, the same applies to them when they read your notes. If this happens, your notes might not be super helpful to them. In the same way, their notes might not be super helpful to you. All in all, a con of sharing your notes is that your notes might not meet your classmates’ needs, and your classmate’s notes might not meet your needs. Different people have different gaps in knowledge and will understand some concepts better than other concepts. For this reason, it would be a good idea to exchange notes with multiple classmates, just as I mentioned earlier in the article.

It can be awkward to ask your classmates for notes

Another con of sharing notes is that the process of asking for them can be awkward. When you’re the one asking for the notes, it can be hard to walk up to someone and ask them if they would share their notes with you. You might need them because you missed class for a perfectly legitimate reason, but the person you’re asking might not know that. Hopefully, the person you’re asking will be kind enough to share their notes with you. Also, remember you don’t need to disclose the reason you’re asking for the notes, since no one is entitled to your personal information (especially if it is related to your health or to a delicate, personal life situation). Only disclose what you’re comfortable disclosing. In other words, when you’re the one in need of notes, it can be awkward to ask a classmate for notes, even if you need them because you missed class for a legitimate reason.

It can be awkward when you decide to not share your notes

Similarly, it can be awkward when you decide to not share your notes with your classmates. Of course, your notes are your property, so you can choose to share them (or not to share them) for any reason at all. You might decide you don’t want to share them, and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, it might be awkward when you tell the person that you won’t be sharing your notes with them. (Personally, I recommend being generous with your notes and sharing them when you are asked. This is because you never know why someone might be asking you to share your notes. It’s possible they missed the last class session due to sickness or due to something happening in their life. So although it’s within your right to decline to share your notes, you should consider before doing so.) Clearly, it can be awkward when you decide to not share your notes.

Classmates might copy your notes word for word

Another disadvantage of sharing your class notes is that your classmates may copy them directly. When you work on assignments, you likely consult any notes on the material you might have. Similarly, when your classmates work on their assignments, they will likely consult your notes if you’ve chosen to share them. This will increase the chance that they might copy your notes word for word in their assignment. If this happens, it could create a bad plagiarism situation. You don’t want to get yourself into that situation! If you don’t share your notes, you will prevent anyone from copying your notes word for word in an assignment. For this reason, a disadvantage of sharing notes with your classmates is that they might copy them.

Sharing notes is an act of kindness, and an act of kindness is always remembered

Finally, one of the best advantages of sharing notes is that it’s an act of kindness. When you share your notes with a classmate, you are helping them out, so they will likely remember it. Like I said before, it will break the ice and make it easier for you to become friends. Plus, after you have done something nice for them when they need it, they will be more likely to do something nice to help you. That’s what friends are for! At the end of the day, sharing your notes is a kind thing to do, and your classmates will remember it. 

Image via Isorepublic.com

In Summary

Of course, there are pros and cons to sharing your notes with your classmates. Here is a summary of them.

Pros of sharing your notes with your classmates:

  • Sharing notes fosters collaboration between yourself and your classmates. When multiple classmates exchange notes with each other, they can create a thorough set of notes that won’t miss any concepts.
  • Sharing notes is a good way to make friends in your class. If you share notes with your classmates, it will break the ice and make it easier to make friends with them.
  • Sharing notes will motivate you to take better notes. You don’t want to share incomplete notes scribbled and full of abbreviations with your classmates. Instead, you will want to write thorough notes that are easy to understand.
  • Sharing notes is an act of kindness that will be remembered by your classmates. When you are kind to your classmates, they will likely be kind to you in return.

Cons of sharing your notes with your classmates:

  • People could become dependent on your notes. You don’t want your classmates to stop taking their own notes because they know you will share yours with them.
  • Your notes might not meet your classmates’ needs, and vice versa. Your notes might not focus on the concepts they need to better understand, and their notes might not focus on concepts you need to better understand.
  • It can be awkward to ask your classmates for notes or to decline when a classmate asks you for notes.
  • Classmates might copy your notes word-for-word for an assignment. You don’t want to be involved in plagiarism!

At the end of the day, your notes are your own. You can choose what you’ll do with them. You should consider the pros and cons of sharing them, and then decide whether or not you’ll share your notes with your classmates. After all, collaboration is a great way to enhance your learning and to make friends.

23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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