With thousands of students flocking back to school for the start of the semester, professors are printing syllabi by the hundreds to prepare each student for the coming months. Textbook readings, written essays, group projects and a stack of homework are all carefully laid out in the syllabus detailing due dates and deadlines. Professors and teachers look forward to meeting eager and diligent new students, with pencils and pens striving for a perfect GPA. With the beginning of syllabus week, though, they’ll inevitably be disappointed.
In the midst of add-drop week, students are deciding whether or not to take a certain class, usually based on whether or not it is required or if it will provide them with an easy A. Since they still have the chance to add a class until the end of the week, most students think that the first few classes are not important.
Many students don’t even attend classes during syllabus week. Instead they use the time to binge-watch a new Netflix series, catch up with the friends they didn’t see over break or simply find out where all their classes are when they have to go next week. Even if a student does attend class, it’s almost a given that they’ll pay attention to everything and anything except to the professor.
However, there’s a whole host of reasons why you shouldn’t use syllabus week as an opportunity to be lazy. With the beginning of a new semester, you’ve got a chance to schedule out the work for each class and minimize the inevitable stress of all those assignments.
Are there two term papers due on the same day? You can find out by comparing the syllabi of your classes. Is there a friend in class to be partners with for the group project for the requirements for the class? Meet them in class. Is the textbook in the school store or can it be purchased somewhere else for a fraction of the price?
Syllabus week is an opportunity to answer all of these questions. Of course, you can try to find out online at the end of the week, as most students do. Just don’t be surprised when the school’s website crashes because everyone’s on it at once.
Syllabus week sets the tone for the rest of the semester. If you spend the week downing shots at the bar or binge-watching a new show on your laptop while wrapped burrito-style in your bed, then the semester is going to be filled with procrastination.
However, if you’ve been planning out your new schedule and learning exactly what assignments are due when, you’ll be primed for a productive semester. Here are five ways to make sure that happens.
1. Actually go to class
As strange and daunting as it may seem, it often helps to actually show up to class. Yes, the first few days of class are boring and they often seem useless, but going through the syllabus with the professor will be extremely helpful in the coming months.
If you learn about assignments before the deluge of homework begins, you’ll be less confused about what is due when the time comes. Knowing what to do in advance will make it easier to plan out long-term projects, balance between assignments from different classes, and generally have a much more efficient semester.
Either way, you are paying a significant chunk of change for each class. You might as well show up to as many as you can.
2. Make new friends
Unless you’ve got an old friend taking the same course as you, it can be intimidating to walk into a new class. However, classes tend to be less stressful when you’ve got somebody to talk to about assignments.
They might just be someone you talk to during class or when you have questions about the homework. Or they might be your partner for the group project you have to do.
For all you know, they might end up becoming your best friend in college. So don’t be afraid to try and talk to someone new. It might be difficult for some to begin a conversation with a stranger, but just remember: any of your classmates could be just as nervous as you are.
3. Actually buy the textbook
Yes, college textbooks tend to be extremely expensive. However, most classes have reading assignments from the textbook, which might determine a large portion of your grade. Also, the upperclassmen might have said you wouldn’t need the book to pass your course, but you’ll most likely do better on tests and quizzes if you read the material.
Besides, even if those upperclassmen were right and the book is useless, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can always sell your textbooks back for a little pocket money over break.
4. Be respectful
In this day and age it often seems impossible to look up from your smartphone long enough to listen to a lecture. But how hard is it to listen, really? Your professors put in the effort to make the class interesting and teach you the information; the least you could do is pay attention. Put the phone down. You’ll have plenty of time to text your friends back after it’s over.
5. Make yourself a planner
Everyone has their own style of organizing their life. Whatever way works best for you, do it! Write everything down on a calendar, make yourself a chart, post it in the reminders in your phone, or scribble it down in a notebook somewhere. Just find a way to remind yourself what you need to do each day. Whatever you use to stay on top of things, it can’t hurt.
6. Make sure you are in the right class
Nothing is worse than spending fifty minutes sitting in a class, learning the syllabus and making friends only to realize you are in the wrong the wrong class. Before you go to your next class, make sure you know where you’re going.