The Syllabus: The Most Important Handout in College

As a freshman, you’ll make yourself a lot of promises like “I’ll sleep early, get up at 5 a.m., and work out at the Dow every day,” or “I’ll eat healthy every single day and never waste money on a pizza delivery,” or better yet “I’ll keep my work area organized and never lose a single paper!” I’m sorry to break it to you, but most of the promises you’ll make in the beginning of fall semester will never see the light of day passed the first week.

However, one exception should be religiously made, and that is keeping your classes’ syllabi in a nice, warm, dry place where you can tuck it in bed and sing it to sleep every night. Seriously, this paper is your lifeline for all deadlines, all assignments, all labs, all projects, and all quizzes and tests; a syllabus is essentially an outline of everything you’ll do in class for the semester or half semester. If you like keeping a planner or using your Google Calendar (it is recommended that you have some way to keep track of your to-dos), sit yourself down, lay out your syllabi in front of you, and write down all of the dates listed. Occasionally something will come up and the teacher will push a few dates around, but even so it is better to be safe and write it down for the sake of your future, panicky, forgetful self.

In addition to all of these dates, your syllabus could also contain your professor’s office hours, absence policies, and so on:

I used to have a version of a syllabus in high school called a green sheet that was handed out in the first day of class and sometimes the teachers had a small quiz on it, but that was it; most students never referred to the paper again. However, college is a completely different story. That paper that you used to shun will soon become the Sam to your Frodo, the Patrick to your Spongebob, and the Chewbacca to your Han Solo (too soon?).

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