Monday, January 26, 2015

The first week is what to do with all those syllabi?

Some students refer to the first day of class as "syllabus day," meaning the major activity in most first class meetings is distributing and reviewing the syllabus. So, what's the point of a syllabus in a college class anyway? You should think of the syllabus you receive in each course as a contract between you and your instructor. It is both a right and a responsibility. You should be able to use your syllabi to manage your time, set your priorities, and track your grades throughout the semester.

At the start of the semester (right now) you should:
  • Carefully read each syllabus for information about assignments, papers and tests, and make a note of each in your planner/time management system. If you're missing important information for any class, such as due dates or explorations of how your grades will be calculated, consider bringing this to the instructors attention. As a student, you have a right to know what is expected of you, just as you have a responsibility to adhere to these expectations.
  • Compare all of your classes! Do you have multiple assignments, papers, or projects due on the same day? Will you be studying for several tests at the same time? Busy weeks with multiple assignments due will take advanced planning and careful time management on your part, so you don't want to be caught off guard. If you know now, in the second week of school, you can plan accordingly and get ahead.
  • Make sure you understand how your grade will be calculated, and which assignments will have the greatest impact on your final grade. If you hit a busy point in the semester where you're balancing multiple assignments, you don't want to dedicate the bulk of your time to something that is 2% of your grade over something that is 30% of your grade.
  • Check for specific requirements that could affect your final grade (e.g. how class absences count, whether you can hand in papers or assignments late with no penalty, whether there are rewrite policies that allow you to revise a paper or assignment and resubmit it for a higher grade).

For more information about how to be a savvy student and make use of your syllabi, click here and take note of strategy #4.  While you're there, take a look at the Grade Tracker forms.

Still have questions?  Stop by the Academic Advising Link and one of our Peer Advisors will help!

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