How to Use a Syllabus the Right Way

Syllabus week. By far the easiest week in college. In high school, I was never one to look at the syllabus and use it. The packet was not only a waste of paper, but it usually ended up in the recycling bin a couple of weeks later. Now, halfway through my first semester as a college student, I can honestly say each and every one of my syllabuses is my knight in shining armor. I usually do 4 things when I first get a syllabus.

Read it!

Even though it is 10 pages of a bunch of class norms, I guarantee there is something in there that you are going to need to know. It may not be right now. But at some point within the semester, there’s going to be something that you are going to want to know at midnight when you are trying to finish that midterm paper that you procrastinated on. Your professor is not going to be up at midnight checking his/her emails. Chances are professors are not going to respond to a question on a due date. ESPECIALLY IF IT IS IN THE SYLLABUS. Not only is there going to be assignment requirements in the syllabus but there is also going to be due dates! Those are extremely important and they lead me into my next thing I do when I get a syllabus.

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Write down due dates!

I normally put them in my planner under the day that they are due. Sunday night, I sit down and make a list on a sticky note of everything that is due for the week. Another thing I do right after I have all my syllabi, is make an excel spreadsheet of all the assignments that are due over the semester. If it isn’t written down, chances are it’s not going to get done!

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Put it in a safe place!

Because you are going to be referring back to your syllabi A LOT during the course of the semester it is important that you don’t lose them! A lot of my professors have made them available online but this semester I have a professor that completely ignores the online option for posting class work and does everything old fashion. It’s safe to say that if I was to lose that syllabus, I would probably be in trouble for the rest of the semester. I usually put my syllabi in the very front of the binder (if I need one for that class). If you don’t need a binder for your classes, use a folder. It is always a good idea to have a folder for any class. You can not only put your syllabus in the folder but you can put all of your graded work in there.

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Use all your syllabi to plan out your semester!

We all procrastinate. No matter how many times we say we don’t, we do. It happens. I find that if I can gage how my week or even my semester looks in advance I can plan the days that I can work, the days that I am free to plan lunch dates, or even days where I am going to be super busy. If you know in advance that you have 2 papers, a presentation, and 4 tests in one week (it happens), you can get a head start on the papers and presentation so you have more time to study for the 4 tests that you have that week. It may seem like getting a head start is unnecessary, but in reality, it saves so much worrying and stress.

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Alaina Pearson

Alaina is currently studying Athletic Training and Coaching at Washburn University. Along with being apart of Alpha Phi at Washburn, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is also a Pinterest and Starbucks lover.

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