Yet another summer has come to an end. Tomorrow I officially go back to uni, that means I am back to hating Mondays (hahaha). Anyways, at the beginning of every year in college we get bombarded with the syllabus and the way you decide how to use it can make or break your semester. I have learned this the hard way. Let me give you a little bit of background story.
I didn’t know what a syllabus was until my firsts year in college. The syllabus was given to me, we discussed in class, I stored it on my folder and that’s it. End of the story. Because of this my first semester in college was a disaster. I remember professors announcing exams sometimes only two days in advanced and I will freak out. I will look around and only a few people where as freak out the rest of them didn’t seem to care. Why? Because not only they read the syllabus but they also incorporated what the syllabus said into their schedules.
Today I am sharing the right way to use a syllabus, so you won’t have the same experience that I had.
The Right Way to Use a Syllabus: General Information
Let me start by stating that you need to read the whole thing. Every single page of that syllabus you should read carefully, but pay most attention to the important things. Usually syllabus starts with a course description, instructors information and materials for the course.
One of the most important information from the syllabus is the instructors information. This is essential, so don’t go pass through it. Do not just highlight it, I recommend to add this information to a place where you always have access to. Usually there is a contact page on agendas, so I recommend to add it there. If you are not one to constantly have your calendar with you (which in college you definitely should) then crate a contact on you phone. This is the information that usually professors will give:
- Office location
- Office Hours
This is the information you will need incase you have any doubts or problems. By having this at hand you will know when and where to contact them. It’s important to follow office hours incase you can’t email them asking when can you visit their office.
Materials for the course
You need to know the materials of the course as soon as possible. Why? Because you want to be able to act as soon as possible. You need to find who offers you the best price before anyone else. That way you can save money. If you want to know more about how you can save money in books you need to read this post I wrote on it: How I save Hundreds of Dollars on Books Every Year. (available tomorrow)
The Right Way to Use a Syllabus: Calendar
This is the most important thing you will encounter on your syllabus. Again, do not only just highlight the important dates. You need to add the exam dates onto your calendar and create a plan. What I mean by plan is that you need to organize the way that you will be spending your time based on the exam, essays and presentation dates. This is where a good Weekly and Monthly calendar comes in handy.
Recommended: How I organized a semester in 1 hour (coming soon)
The Right Way to Use a Syllabus: Rules and Policies
This is the part of the syllabus that I used to skip every semester and I finally learned why I shouldn’t. Here is a little story for you. Last semester I was in a General Psychology class. On the first day we were given the syllabus which was almost 25 pages long (single spaced). As soon as I received this, the first thing I thought was: “there is no way I am reading all of these.” The majority of the pages where the Rules and Policies, so I decided to skip it. (Big Mistake).
We had to give group presentations at the end of the semester, therefore we dedicated a large amount of time in the semester to this task. Like me, the rest of the group did not read the 25 pages long syllabus. For some reason the day before presenting, someone from my group decided to read the syllabus and realized that we needed to change a lot from our presentation. So the night before the presentation we were changing the whole thing. We could have avoid this if we had read the Rules and policies section.
Here are the things that you can find in the Rules and Policies section:
- If you can bring digital books, laptop, phone, etc.
- Instructions for writing essays, presentations and exams.
- General rules for the classroom.
- What to do if you miss a class.
- What to do if you miss an exam.
I hope this will be helpful if you are starting college or if you are looking for a way to get organized this semester. I hope you have a great semester. Don’t forget to share this post if it was helpful.