By Meghen Jones
The first day of class is highly anticipated amongst all college students, regardless of what year they are. Part of you is excited to meet your new professors and continue to build upon your education, but the other part can’t get over the paranoia of not knowing what to expect. Can you say Mixed Feelings 101? Fortunately, most professors spend the first day of class welcoming students, introducing the course, and going over the syllabus, leaving the harder work for the following weeks. By the end of the week, though, you’ll have a pile of syllabi at your desk, with either little idea of what to do with them or a sheer feeling of overwhelmingness.
But, there is a reason why professors spend the entire class explaining every detail that is written on your syllabi. Rather than taking the matter lightly, you might consider starting your semester responsibly by using each one as a foundation for the semester’s workflow and tasking. In honor of that promise to yourself, uCribs has put together 3 simple, resourceful steps to take after receiving your stack o’ syllabi, so you can get started on the right foot and really crush the semester ahead.
First, read your syllabi carefully.
It’s common for college students in the Digital Age to abhor all things paper. You opt for paperless billing and recycle all unwanted paper mail. We get it… you’re environmentally conscious and well-connected. So, if you do happen to receive a paper syllabus, we recommend that you hold onto this one packet of paper, or at least, consider scanning it to upload onto your Google Drive. Why? Because, the hard-hitting reality is that a syllabus is the key to organizing readings, assignments, and important due dates. It will also tell you any other important information you might need, like your textbooks or needed supplies for the course.
Reading over your syllabus will give you a general idea of your professor’s expectations, as well as their contact information, office hours, and grading requirements. You’ll also want to pay very close attention to the professor’s individual attendance policy. While the university has a standard policy for attendance, many professors will also make their own and only allow a certain number of absences before points are deducted from your final grade. You might shrug it off now, but it can make all the difference between earning a B or A in a class – which can factor into your scholarship or financial aid requirements. So, read over each syllabus a few times, note all of the important details it covers, and store it securely, so you can refer back to it as needed.
Next, purchase the required textbooks.
Syllabi not only cover a semester’s worth of important information, but they also include one of the more important aspects of your classwork: required textbooks and reading materials! Professors typically include the title, author, and ISBN numbers of books that are needed for class on the first page of their syllabus. The ISBN number is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a specific title or edition of a book. With this unique number, students can purchase physical or digital books online and get the correct edition they need to boot!
You’re probably wondering how you’re supposed to purchase your textbooks in record time, especially with all the competition, aka your peers. Luckily enough for the modern student, there are a variety of platforms— like Amazon and Chegg— which not only allow you to rent or buy the books you need quickly, but also provide those materials at inexpensive prices. You might even be able to cut a deal on required textbooks from older students, too! No matter how you approach book-buying, don’t delay this crucial aspect of class prep. Plus, you can always sell your books once the semester is over and earn cash to put towards your textbooks for next semester…ah, the circle of life.
Finally, organize important dates and classes.
Now that you know your professors’ expectations and have purchased your textbooks, it’s crucial that you implement some sort of organizational strategy to maintain throughout the semester. In college, it’s so easy to lose control of your schedule and assignment due dates, and who wants to be a constantly disorganized, constantly overwhelmed student? While it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed from time-to-time, your college journey will not be easy in the least, if you don’t commit to staying organized and on top of your tasks.
To spare yourself the 2 AM headache, write down all of your important deadlines from each class in a planner and prioritize the assignments accordingly. By doing so, you’ll have a general overview of the upcoming important dates you’ll need to hit. We recommend color coding each class in your planner. This way, you’ll never be confused as to which notes adhere to which class. If you feel this method won’t work for you, play around with organizational ideas to find a method that does! Once you’re able to stay more focused throughout the semester, you’ll be glad you did.
College is a memorable academic experience, but it definitely comes with its pressures—which you will find a great overview of, once you receive your syllabi for the semester. While you’re also in college for the social experience, don’t let your studies fall to the wayside because of something as simple as choosing to ignore your all-important college syllabi. Essentially, it’s a blueprint for your success at the university level, and once you coordinate your daily workflow with all the pertinent information it contains, you’ll be on the right track towards a fulfilling college life, and of course, timely graduation!