Purchasing lecture notes smears necessity of attendance

by Emmilly Nguyen, Senior Staff Columnist

If a student can purchase lecture notes, what’s the point of attending lectures? This is a crucial observation this semester as San Diego State becomes a recent addition to StudySoup, a site filled with study materials, mainly the buying and selling of  notes.

StudySoup first launched at University of California, Santa Barbara and then expanded to major schools such as University of California, Los Angeles, Brown University and other colleges in between. According to UCSB’s Noozhawk, StudySoup is used by more than 8,000 students in more than 40 universities.

On this site, students can become professional note takers or purchasers for a variety of classes with prices ranging anywhere from $2 to $30.

StudySoup has had a lot of success as a startup company but it might degrade academia rather than help it.

“At the end of the day, learning from your peers is the best way to learn, because after all, who understands your question better than someone who’s in your class?” founders of StudySoup, Sieva Kozinsky and Jeff Silverman said.

StudySoup was designed to promote peer learning, however peer learning should be more about engaging thought and acquiring knowledge than monetizing those efforts.

At any rate, all students learn differently and have different experiences. What one student finds noteworthy another won’t. Therefore, it’s in one’s best interest to take his or her own notes.

Sure better notes could be supplemental to those long lectures, but what’s the point of paying for college if the teaching is being done by other students? The point of college is to learn from qualified professors who have degrees in the subjects they teach, not students who happen to be better entrepreneurs.

Skating through college while spending thousands of dollars cheats no one but the individual. If you leave college learning nothing but cheats and shortcuts, you might as well have just saved the money spent on tuition, room and board, books, school supplies and just stayed home.

Generally speaking, the students purchasing notes are the same students not attending class — those who miss an occasional day don’t need to pay for notes; and students who do not attend class should not expect to pass.

Although it can alleviate costs upon buying books for the class, buying notes should supplement actually going attending class, not replace it. Being able to buy notes acts as a safety net and hinders the student’s learning experience.

“(Students) come to class for the experience,” journalism and media studies professor, Carrie O’Connell, said. “It’s just an additional tool. Where it can be detrimental is when the student expects or perhaps relies on those as there only route.”

O’Connell said there is nothing wrong with buying and selling notes as long as it supplements coming to class, participating and engaging in the material.

I’m all for crowdsourcing but only the free kind. It’s not even about the money but rather the spirit of it.

Student should be able to crowdsource notes and help each other for the sake of academia. Students adding to a study guide are engaging with one another and the course material. Whereas buying and selling that takes away from the learning experience, it is very one-sided and displaces coming to class and taking notes yourself.