Go to class? Check. Take decent notes? Check. Want to make money? Check and check.
Notehall.com, launched in 2008 at the University of Arizona, is a website where students can either buy or sell lecture hall notes. It separates notes by school, course, and teacher. This gives students guides exclusive to their particular class.
Chegg, a textbook rental company that many students go to as a more affordable alternative to the University Bookstore, recently acquired the study guide service.
Whether helping out students that are looking to make some easy cash or students that are interested in finding ways to study without doing a lot of work, Notehall appeals to many.
It's a simple process. Students that want to purchase guides just buy credits and use them toward whatever class they need the guide for. On the other hand, if students are looking to sell, they just post their information, wait for others to show interest and buy their notes, and get a check in the mail whenever they choose to cash out.
"[I used the website] out of desperation," said Andrea Taylor, a junior nursing major.
Taylor fell behind in the course and needed to catch up. She learned about Notehall after getting an email from another student selling lecture notes. It wasn't until she needed help studying that she actually bought notes from the site.
"I think it's a good resource when used properly, but if it's abused, it's just letting lazy students be lazier," Taylor said. "I'd be pretty disappointed in the students that bought from it regularly [if I were a teacher], because they aren't really putting effort into the course as much."
Since buying a study guide for $5, Taylor has developed better study habits. She said she doesn't want nerve-racking problems like that to ever happen again.
For students it's a win-win situation – either you get notes without putting forth much effort, or you put forth effort and make money.
Some college professors, however, don't look too kindly on the website. Although students only share guides and not actual exam information, some professors feel that websites like Notehall compromise copyright and ethical issues.
At Chico State University in Calif., two students were reported to Student Judicial Affairs after allegedly selling notes online in Nov. 2011. After the incident, which was said to have violated a state law, Chico State students were told to stop using Notehall.
George Siefert, a sociology professor at UB, gave his own opinion on how websites similar to Notehall concern students in his classes, specifically his Introduction to Sociology course.
"I discouraged students from making these purchases as I did not believe they would be getting any meaningful value from this resource," Siefert said. "They may serve a purpose in some classes but I didn't believe they would be useful in mine."
Timothy Boyd, an associate research professor within UB's department of Classics, believes that Notehall does not exist without inherent dangers.
"Who will judge that the notes are accurate or detailed enough?" Boyd said. "So much depends upon a lecturer's emphasis, which is something only detectable from listening."
It's a risk the buying students must take; they must trust that the seller is giving them reliable, worthwhile notes. Notehall gives students the option of "previewing" a study guide, showing them the first few pages, depending on how long the material runs. After reviewing the material, the buyers decide whether they want to spend their money rather than their time on the study guide.
According to UB's academic integrity policy: "No person shall sell or offer for sale to any person enrolled at the University at Buffalo any academic assignment, or any inappropriate assistance in the preparation, research, or writing of any assignment, which the seller knows, or has reason to believe, is intended for submission in fulfillment of any course or academic program requirement."
But according to Taylor, the professors already gave the information to the class. The seller just compiled it all into one package. So while the purchased documents give assistance to buying students, they do not give any information that the professor did not previously disclose.
Notehall has spread across the country to over 50 universities and plans on increasing that number by 400 percent, according to www.crunchbase.com.
The company attempts to live up to its mission statement: "We strive to fulfill our mission of bringing classmates together in a virtual setting in hopes of enhancing the overall academic success of college students nationwide."
Whether a student is a buyer or a seller, Notehall has something to offer for every type of student sitting (or not sitting) in a lecture hall.