For Andrea Silvera, a UC Davis student studying applied mathematics, taking handwritten and detailed notes come naturally. She never thought she could make money with the skills helping her ace her college courses—until she was introduced to a website that said otherwise. “I was on Facebook and saw an article by OneClass about difficult classes,” she says. “There was an option to become a student note taker, and I applied. After I uploaded my notes and my trial period was over, I was hired.”
OneClass curates course notes and study guides written by students for students from colleges around the nation. It doesn’t even require student note takers to be enrolled in the courses for which they are hired to take notes. “Most of the time, these classes are taught in huge lecture halls with over 300 students, so I’m able to take notes without a problem. Only three of the four classes that I’ve taken notes for this year have been courses I’ve been enrolled in.” Most surprising, Silvera says, is the amount of views her notes receive. “In a class of 300, 100 students usually view my notes. To get a response from a third of the class is amazing.”
OneClass co-founder Kevin Wu and three fellow students at the University of Toronto began the site simply to help other students. “We thought it would be great if upperclassmen had a way to share their notes and study guides with incoming freshman,” he says. “It was really about capturing the knowledge between students, and that’s how the idea was born.” With 2.6 million users, the subscription site continues to grow. According to the site, 90 percent of students using OneClass notes get better grades as a result, and 68 percent of note takers also see significant improvement in their grades, some by as much as 3 grade points.
But note takers don’t just take the job for the educational benefit. Silvera has made $1,500 in just under a year of note taking for OneClass, making a point to ensuring her notes are getting the most views and more sales than other note takers. “My notes are not just handwritten,” she says. “I type them all and include any extra explanations that the instructor gives. In addition to that, I use PowerPoint and Microsoft Word to recreate diagrams and graphs that the instructor used to illustrate the concept further.”
With plans to pursue a career as a financial analyst, Silvera finds that working her way through college as a note taker has been worthwhile and profitable; she’s already signed up to take notes for another class next year. However, she cautions others who might be tempted to take the job and cut corners: “If you want to do this, you have to put in the time and actually attend the classes. You can’t trust that someone else’s notes are going to be complete—you need to take them yourself.”