As the end of the fall semester for college and university students rapidly approaches, it’s time to reflect back on the past few months and reflect. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What can be improved for next semester? One of the easiest things you can pledge to do for next semester is to read your syllabus.
What? That’s it?
It may sound simple, but that might be why so many students neglect this treasure trove of information. This neglect may also have something to do with the fact that I have yet to encounter a high school classroom that utilizes a syllabus. The course syllabus is your guide to the entire semester. It tells you what you have to read and when (remember, the material needs to be read FOR the date it’s listed on the syllabus, not the next class!), how much assignments are worth, how assignments will be evaluated, when and where the class meets…you get the picture. The syllabus is your lifeline.
I like to take time at the beginning of the semester and pencil (because it can always change) in the dates on my syllabus. That way, I know that I have to read a 700 page novel the third week in February, so I probably don’t want to schedule a presentation for that week. By plotting out the big due dates early, I can plan my time out easier and know when I should sign up if there are extra assignments, like article reviews.
Referencing the syllabus will also keep you from asking your professor or TA stupid questions. Of course, you should always ask if you need clarification, but if it’s obvious you haven’t even taken the time to check the syllabus then you’ll probably be met with a little exasperation. The professors put a lot of time into developing a comprehensive syllabus, so don’t make it a waste. You’ll also want to hold on to the syllabus throughout the semester. Keep it clipped in the front of your binder or filed away at home…just make sure you know where it is for easy access.
There are plenty of ways to help yourself achieve academic success, so why not start with the basics?