The best thing I did to prepare for college was to learn to touch type. I am shocked at how many people, even at Microsoft, hunt and peck at their keyboard and type fairly slowly. When I think of all of the time they are wasting over their lifetime it’s astounding. All you need to do is invest an hour a day for a week or two on this and you’ll gain a skill that will increase your efficiency in work, school, and life. Might as well do it now!
Take a typing test – the goal is to type as fast as you think 🙂
How fast are you?
When I was in college, students didn’t really have their own computers. For the first two years I wrote all of my papers on a typewriter like the one pictured above, that has a small LCD screen that allowed you to write and edit a paper in its memory and then let it type it out all at once when you are finished.
Also, the history of the layout of the QWERTY keyboard is pretty (well, more 😉 interesting:
Originally, the characters on the typewriters he invented were arranged alphabetically, set on the end of a metal bar which struck the paper when its key was pressed. However, once an operator had learned to type at speed, the bars attached to letters that lay close together on the keyboard became entangled with one another, forcing the typist to manually unstick the typebars, and also frequently blotting the document. [Someone] suggested splitting up keys for letters commonly used together to speed up typing by preventing common pairs of typebars from striking the platen at the same time and sticking together. The effect this rearrangement of letters had on maximum typing speed is a disputed issue. Some sources assert that the QWERTY layout was designed to slow down typing speed to further reduce jamming. Other sources assert the rearrangement worked by separating common sequences of letters in English. Ostensibly, the hammers that were likely to be used in quick succession were less likely to interfere with each other.
The home row (ASDFGHJKL) of the QWERTY layout is thought to be a remnant of the old alphabetical layout that QWERTY replaced. QWERTY also attempted to alternate keys between hands, allowing one hand to move into position while the other hand strikes a key. This sped up both the original double-handed hunt-and-peck technique and the later touch typing technique.
An unfortunate consequence of the layout, for right-handed typists, is that many more words can be spelled using only the left hand. In fact, thousands of English words can be spelled using only the left hand, while only a couple of hundred words can be typed using only the right hand. This is helpful for left-handed people. It is also helpful for those on a computer where the right hand is primarily used for the mouse leaving the left hand as the primary hand to type with.