Intro: The Syllabus
The syllabus is the main source of organization for any college course. It’s the lifeblood of your grade and GPA. You must know how to utilize it correctly and know when information is missing and what to ask when it is.
Here is an article by the Chronicle of Higher Education on what a syllabus should include.
1. Due Dates & Organization
The obvious use for a syllabus are the due dates for essays, homework, reading, and exams. When I was in college, I either printed the syllabus and hung it on my wall or made an Excel spreadsheet of all of my syllabi so each due date was in one place.
Syllabi should keep you in check and organized. That is why they are given to students. So they know what to expect! But sometimes you will have a professor who is not organized at all. They won’t have specific dates listed or any dates at all! This was my nightmare in school and it should be yours too.
At the very least you are most likely taking four classes or more. It is necessary for your college survival to have dates to base your actions on. So when a professor doesn’t give specific dates, ask. Do not be afraid to ask when the first test will be or how many tests you’ll have during the semester. If they don’t know, keep up on the reading for the class — always! They should at least provide PowerPoints, notes, or readings for you. Study them.
2. Read the Syllabus
Most professors in most states have to follow certain guidelines for their syllabi. They must put their contact information, their office hours, title nine information, etc. They usually skip over this information and, honestly, you will too eventually. But it is a good idea, especially as a freshman, to read the entire syllabus. You may just catch information you need later for a paper, or maybe you’ll need to visit them during office hours!
3. Campus Map
For the first week, I had the campus map with me on my phone and in person. I am terrible at directions and was totally lost most of the time. You may already know your campus, and that’s great, but if you’re not sure, keep a map with you — and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
4. ID & Keys
This is obvious but take your student ID and keys everywhere. Take them to every class, every time you shower or use the bathroom, every time you go to eat — always have both of these. Most dorms now won’t let you in without your ID and you will need your key to get into your room. You will run into a time where your roommate isn’t home and you’ll be locked out!
5. Wait to Order Your Books
This used to give me anxiety and I used to never do it. But it saves a lot of money. Sometimes the professor will change the book, or once you get the syllabus you can see if you can find the readings for free online. It’s cheaper to wait until after the first day of all your classes, but it feels a lot better to be prepared. Ultimately, it’s up to you!
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