By Matt Smithhisler
Coordinator, Government and Industry Affairs
As I prepare to enter my last year of graduate school, I look back and appreciate paper and paper products’ role in my success throughout the past couple years. Paper has helped me organize my schedule, read and take notes effectively and prevent the dreaded common cold before finals.
The beginning of each semester is always a bit overwhelming. Paper calendars and printed copies of class materials help keep things organized, especially during the first few weeks. I make it a habit to print out my class syllabi to have access to the semester highlights in one place and can reference it for upcoming assignment due dates. I use a paper calendar to mark team meetings, deadlines, exams and of course, days off. Once the semester is underway, notebooks, post-it notes and index cards are valuable tools for finishing work on time and key to studying for exams.
Another value of paper in graduate school has been printing out material and taking notes by hand. As more schools move away from hardcopy books in favor of digital versions, I print out the pages I need. Printing select chapters and material saves time since books and material are typically long, and it is time-consuming to scroll through on laptops and phones. Printing pages also allows me to take notes as I read, highlight important sections and add post-it-notes to flag items. During class, using paper enables me to pay full attention without distractions and retain more information. In fact, a 2016 study found that 92 percent of college students preferred reading paper books over electronic.
Paper product’s value does not end in the classroom. Tissues and paper towels are essential at all times, especially during the winter months and cold season. They help reduce the spread of disease and chance of getting sick by reducing bacteria and keeping hands and surfaces sanitary.
As an AF&PA employee and graduate student, the value of paper in higher education is not lost on me. Paper products play an essential role in preparing for class and setting me up for success. From organization to notetaking, studying to time management, paper is key. As I embark on my final year, I’ll once again stock up on my favorite paper products for success.