Every college student loves syllabus week. The week that students get a piece of paper that they will never look at again. The week that students listen to the teacher drag on and on about how important it is to keep that little piece of paper. The little paper that could affect your entire semester. While I know many of you are thinking, “I will never use this piece of paper again,” I will explain to you while this thought is very, very wrong. Here is what you should do with your course syllabus as soon as you get it – and then make sure to tuck it away for safe keeping.
One of the first things you should do is to take a highlighter and highlight everything that is important. Some things that should be highlighted right off the bat are the teacher’s office hours, how you can contact them, and any important dates for the class. Some other things that you will want to locate is the department chair’s information. This can be useful if you have a teacher that you feel is not working with you.
Double Check your Textbooks
The next thing that you will need to locate on your syllabus is what textbook(s) are required for the class. While you might have already purchased them from the bookstore, there have been a few times in my experience in which the teachers didn’t communicate with the bookstore properly. You should check your book and make sure you have the right one, as well as the right edition since college textbooks tend to change several times.
Search for the Bold
You should also look for anything that’s printed in a different font style, such as bold or italics. The teacher obviously wanted these items to stand out and there is probably a reason for that. In my experience, many times the things that are in bold are due dates. It is very important that you take note of these dates and immediately keep track of them in any format you prefer, such as in a planner or on your phone.
Determine the Grading Scheme
A few other things that you should locate right away is whether attendance affects your grade, if participation counts towards your grade, how the teacher will grade you, and what you will need to get certain grades. All of these details can affect whether or not you pass the class. This is one of the most important sections in your entire course syllabus. It is important to look at how the teacher grades and how they define attendance and participation – believe me, not all professors have the same ideas on these matters. I have had teachers in which you had to be physically be there every class, and actively contribute to discussions in order to get the credit.
Pretty much what I am trying to tell you is that your course syllabus is your lifeline for passing your class. Whether you highlight, copy it into your planner, or tuck it into a folder – just make you don’t lose it!