College Students Sell Flashcards and Notes to Pay for Back-to-School

Once the notes are uploaded on the website in formats like PDFs or Excel spreadsheets, Gayle is able to share the link of her notes to her classmates through emails and social media platforms like Twitter. Spreading the word is important, but the quality of a person's notes is the kicker.

Since Flashnotes has a star ranking system that presents reviews from previous customers and displays a preview of notes to the potential buyers, each bullet point that Gayle makes requires her a lot of work to be accurate. At the end of second semester last school year Gayle's revenue jumped to $2,600.

That's the mission of Flashnotes.

"We really want to give students an organized format of the content with the high quality that they need," Matousek told MainStreet.

The concept behind the note-trading behavior seems to be a lifesaver for college students who have to deal with the financial burden of their debts. Technology has also encouraged a series of online note collaboration products like Flashnotes and OneClass to offer students various online learning options. But would the online network for study materials be a disruption for traditional education? Does it invade professors' intellectual property? Is it really a helpful method to improve students' grades?

"It would be helpful for students who are not good at taking notes, but [the flip side is] it may encourage students not to attend class, not to challenge professors, or not to take their notes on their own," said William James, a marketing professor at Hofstra University. "Eventually it leads students to blind their brains without critical thinking."

After tasting the sweetness of being an active notes-seller on Flashnotes, Gayle, however, aims to continue selling her notes until she graduates. She told MainStreet, "I'm saving for my graduate school; I will definitely go all the way to the end."


POSTED: Monday, July 21, 2014 12:00 AM
Updated: Saturday, March 25, 2023 07:05 AM