Winter break is coming to a close, and that means syllabus week is right around the corner. While I have some friends who won’t be returning to university until February, I head back to school the third week of January. A new semester means new professors, new classmates, and new syllabi.
Friends, I live by my syllabus.
Why? It’s simple. The syllabus tells me absolutely everything I could ever want to know about a course, and that is pretty powerful.
Once I have this all-mighty syllabus in my hand, what do I do, you ask?
- Read it.
- Decide if this class is right for me.
- Write down important dates.
- Make note of office hours.
- Put it in a safe place, where I’ll be able to find it later.
Let me break it down for you:
I read it.
It sounds like the most obvious thing, but trust me, around page 3 most students just set it aside. I read my entire syllabus, beginning to end. This means no surprises down the road. I know what’s what, and if something is unclear, I can ask about it straight away.
I decide if this class is right for me.
A class that puts seemingly the weight of your entire grade on one exam is not a class for me. All of this information can be found in the syllabus, and reading it can help give you a better understanding of the course expectations. If a course seems impossible for me to do well in, I’ll look into other options. If not, I move on to step three.
I write down all of the quiz and exam dates in my calendar.
This I find really helpful, because it starts to give me an idea of when I’ll need to begin studying and when I’ll be spending more time on that particular course.
I write down the professor’s office hours.
Last semester, I wrote down all of my professor’s office hours, and used washi to stick them to the wall over my desk. As someone who routinely takes advantage of office hours, this is super important for me. If I had to make an appointment or wanted to verify any information I was unsure of, I could just glance up at my wall to see how the professor’s office hours fit into my schedule.
I put it somewhere I won’t lose it.
Around midterms, or if I ever want to calculate how an assignment would affect my grade, I found myself reaching for my syllabus. This meant that keeping my syllabi on hand was a necessity. My first thought was to keep them in a file folder, safe and sound in my desk where I could easily access them. However, this didn’t last very long. Sometimes in class a professor would change an exam date or move assignments around. When this happened, I would always change it in my calendar and syllabus so that I wouldn’t be confused down the road. I found that I needed to have my syllabus on hand, so I placed each classes syllabus in its corresponding notebook. I was never caught in class without everything I needed! And I never had to wait until I was back in my room to make note of any changes. I always knew where my syllabus was, and that made life a whole lot easier.
That’s it! Those are the five things I do as soon as I have my syllabus.
These five things ensure that my syllabus week is productive. And it reduces stress later in the semester! While syllabus week can be a time to kick back and forget about classes for a while, taking advantage of the free time to set yourself up for success will be worth it in the long run. These five tasks barely take any time at all! They’re easy, and boost productivity. How could you go wrong?