Learning Not to Highlight, and Other Orientation Highlights

By Katherine Duke '05

Hello, my name is Katherine, and I am a recovering habitual highlighter. Nine years ago, when I started my first year at Amherst, I got into the habit of studying with a hot pink or neon green or fluorescent orange marker in my hand, so that I could drag it across any lines of text that struck me as particularly important. It made me feel accomplished and scholarly—I could look back through the pages and see that I had really studied. It took me several semesters and many defaced books to realize that merely changing the color of what I’d read didn’t help me very much when I went back to re-read it later, and it was especially unhelpful when I found that I’d designated three quarters of every page as “particularly important.”