What To Do With Your College Syllabus

The holy grail syllabus. These pieces of paper that you'll get (digitally or physically) for each of your classes holds basically all of the information you will need regarding logisitics and expectations for the class. Do not simply glance over it and toss it out, because if you do, you may find that you might have questions later in the year your professor won't answer because "it's in the syllabus". If this is your first time getting a syllabus, you might not know exactly what to look for or to do once you get one. This post will share 5 key things you should do after getting your syllabus.

Write down all due dates in your planner immediately

One thing that most college kids get blindsided by would be due dates. Your syllabus will have major test, quiz, and homework assignments listed out for you and when they are due. Do yourself a favor and go ahead and put these in your planner! They might change (more than likely not) but in doing this you are already able to see what weeks may be busier than others, and you get a good idea of when to start studying for tests and exams for each of your classes. This isn't high school where professors constantly accept late work and excuses, so staying on top of assignments and their submission dates is critical.

Check late work policies and extra credit opportunities

Going off of what I just said, most professors or TA's will not accept late work, so if you forget, that's usually a fat zero. However, you may have some angel professors who doc points for each day an assignment is late. This is up to the class and professor. Check your syllabus for what the professor's policy is on late work. Additionally, extra credit is not as common either, so check for what your class policy is for this as well while reading your syllabus.

Check submission/paper formatting guidelines

I lost points on a few of my first essays and could not figure out what for. Turns out, if I read the syllabus again, I would have seen that my teacher had strict guidelines as to how to set my header and footers for each of my documents. These requirements were not listed on the assignment page. Nope. They were only found on the syllabus. Be sure to read the syllabus to see if your professor has any of these guidelines for paper submissions so you aren't losing silly points.

Highlight the contact information for the class

Sometimes professors will want you to direct questions to a teaching assistant, or to a large email that the entire course runs underneath instead of directly emailing them. These directions for contacting, emails, office hours, and more will be directly stated in the syllabus. Be sure to reference this before emailing your professor that way you don't accidentally email the wrong person or go to the wrong help/office hours to talk to your professor.

Prepare any questions you may have about the syllabus for next class period

Typically, most professors will ask if there are any questions about the syllabus or class at the beginning of the very next class period. With this being the case, be sure to ask any questions or get clarification during this time. Most professors do not like when students ask months later about a question they had about the syllabus. It shows you weren't paying attention.

These syllabus tips should help you know what to look for when reading your syllabus, and should also help you be prepared for what to expect for your upcoming classes. As I said, these simple pieces of paper help set up your entire semester, so take "syllabus week" seriously!

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