By Shira Joshua
I remember my first week at Stern clearly. As an international student, I had to adjust accordingly to my new environment and status. I was extremely excited and slightly hesitant at the same time. As I wasn’t from the area, I came alone without any family for support and without knowing anyone on campus. However, I came full of expectations of expanding my knowledge, succeeding, and forming new friendships.
Even with all my determination, I was having trouble taking notes during class, due to the language barrier. Therefore, I was forced to rely on generous students who were willing to share their notes. I remember one of my more demanding courses was statistics. As my first quiz was approaching, I was in need of notes as the few people I had previously asked refused. As the day before the quiz came, I was very worried and stressed that I would not be able to get a hold of notes and study. Therefore, I decided to text everyone I “knew” (not many people) to ask if they know someone who knows someone that perhaps is willing to share her notes. Lo and behold, I found an amazing friend who was ever so generous and happily offered her notes so as to benefit others. No words can describe how thankful I was for this kind gesture and impressed by the selflessness this student has exemplified. A few weeks later an additional statistics classmate of mine offered her notes, and at the end of each class, I ran to photocopy the notes, so that I can review the class material and study well for the quizzes and exams. I truly don’t think that these big-hearted students realize how much of a help they were.
One may ask why didn’t I choose to buy notes? I simply could not afford it. In Israel, where I come from, selling notes and quizzes is not a common practice, in fact, it is looked down upon. The normal thing in Israel is to just share and help fellow students succeed. Although I understand the motive to sell notes, the idea never sat well with me. I remember on one Shabbat, I, along with my friend Rachel Mauda and some others, sat in the Schottenstein Residence Hall lounge and contemplated how we can motivate other students and classmates to share their notes. After much thought, I came up with an idea to open a Facebook group as a platform to share notes and other study materials for free. Last summer, my friend Rachel and I met and worked to make this group a possibility. However, I didn’t have the courage to publish it yet as I was worried that people wouldn’t join or support it. Eventually, I decided to ignore the background voices in my head and to publish it. I was so surprised to see the wide support from close and far this group has gained. To date, there are more than 300 members and so many amazing students are starting to share for free. I’m sure this group will expand even more and encourage others to change for the better. The aim of this group is to create a supportive space and platform for all students to share and gain and allow for study material to be more accessible. If one student will share her notes and five students, for example, would benefit from that, then they may pay it forward as well, expanding the notes library and assisting others in their education. As humans, we all need help sometimes, and the school can be that much easier if we can support each other. Although, it is true that the more students who join, the less money people would earn. On the same scale, however, the more students who join, the less students will need to spend. The benefit is gaining immediate access to the required material with minimum stress.
If you would like to support this group, please join the “Stern College: In the Note”!