That Syllabus, Though

The start of the fall semester is always exciting. (I won’t refer to it as the “school year” because you are in college now. It’s different.) It’s a time of renewal. As a freshman, it’s a new place of learning. It is called higher education, after all. New classes. Frequently it means living in a new city . . . sometimes in a new housing situation. And definitely with a new title. College student. You are doing all these wonderful, new things as a college student.


Okay, enough of the excitement. It’s time to get down to business. Being a college student is much different than being a high school student. Yes, you are still a student. However, many new things become part of your routine that you didn’t have to think about during high school. You are expected to manage your life in ways that weren’t necessary before. When it comes to classes, you will find that you are much more responsible for getting work submitted on time than you would think.


Get to the point, you say. Okay, here’s the point. The syllabus is law. Huh? Your course syllabus lays out every policy and practice for your course. Pre-requisites, meeting dates and times, grading scale, assignment weights, etc. This document is the one you definitely need to read before the first day of class so you know what your professor expects of you and what you can expect, in turn.


Most syllabi start off with the course and number, meeting dates and time, and your professor’s office hours. It also outlines attendance and grading policies, guidelines for submitting work and whether late work will be accepted. Often along with the expectations and policies for the course, you will get a rough schedule of topics and dates for major assignments (projects/papers, exams, and the final). All of this is included in the document for you to know how to conduct yourself and for you to submit your assignments on time. Although times have changed since I was in school and there are multiple technologies and apps, the onus is still on you as the student. In many professor’s eyes, their responsibility is to post the syllabus and your responsibility is to read and abide by it. In this technological age – and less wasteful environments – syllabi are posted, not handed out. Not receiving a paper copy can’t be the reason you aren’t aware of due dates and exam schedules.


Take the time to at least glance at the syllabus and course schedule so you aren’t caught off guard by anything that comes up. College is a different world and believe it or not, there are courses that have quizzes every week. Don’t get caught off guard or unaware. It’s not a good look. Reading the syllabus is definitely a good look. And you want to look good, right?

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