At the beginning of the semester, I was shocked when I read the syllabi of two of my classes and saw that students were not allowed to use laptops in class.

As I walked to the bookstore to buy notebooks for these classes, I thought back to my senior year of high school, which was the last time I took notes by hand. I shuddered at the memory of ink-stained hands and illegible words. I couldn’t imagine not having my laptop in class. Typing notes was so much faster and efficient, and when I was bored I had the safety of Facebook to entertain me so I wouldn’t fall asleep.

But, these concerns were all disproven once we began class.

I sat in class, clutching my pen and staring at my blank notebook in front of me. After about 30 seconds of this, I realized that nothing on this paper was either moving or entertaining, so I started to look around the room. As my gaze wandered, I noticed the way my professor stared intently at his students while they spoke. I noticed the hair color of the girl seated across from me and that the boy on my right was left-handed.

As days went on, I noticed how much my professor truly cared about his students. I spoke more in class, not because I had nothing else to do but because I realized I actually had so much to say. But most importantly, I listened.

In my other classes where I am able to have my computer open, the people in the class serve as a backdrop to whatever more pressing matters I have to deal with. Whether it be writing emails, reading for another class or simply messaging my friends, it is always so hard to sit back and fully pay attention to what is being said in the class.

This may just be me being a bad student. Maybe I should be able to utilize self control and still be able to focus during class while using technology. But, when I don’t have a laptop on my desk, it feels like nothing else in my life is in the room. It feels like I can finally just sit back and listen.

In the past six weeks of class, I feel I have learned more, not only about the subject but also about my classmates. When my peers share their opinions, I listen intently and am eager to hear more. I have gained connections and insight that I wouldn’t have had I been scrolling through Twitter during class instead.

Without laptops in class, taking notes can be a bit more tedious and distractions more slim, but the insight you gain is so much greater. There is so much to be gained by simply being present.