The beginning of every semester leaves us with a handful of syllabi to sift through. Rather than just ignoring or quickly glancing at your syllabus, take some time to read it over and look for these seven key components.
If you’re not sure how to read your class syllabus, then look no further – we’ve got you covered!
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Specific Class Times and Locations
The lecture location and time is most likely already noted on your class schedule. But in the case that it’s not, make sure to double-check your syllabus. Your Professor may also have some additional requirements like arriving to class 5min before the set time, attending a different lecture hall on a specific day, or even days where you won’t have a lecture.
Your Professor may list office hours in the syllabus. Mentally note when and where they’re at. Go one step further by writing these down in the beginning of your class notebook/binder or in your planner.
This may be the most lengthy part of your syllabus depending on your professor. Some like to outline every section and topic whereas others only give you a brief overview of the class. Depending on how organized you want to get, you could easily create sections or tabs in your notebook or binder to differentiate the various topics you’ll cover in the semester.
If there is a lab associated with your course, your professor may have used the class syllabus to include any necessary supplies needed for the lab along with any lab report requirements or the contact info for the various Teaching Assistants leading the labs.
If you do have a lab but it’s not mentioned in the syllabus, then you’ll most likely receive additional information about your lab during the first time you meet.
Typically paired with science and math classes, a weekly recitation gives you additional time with a Teaching Assistant. During this time you’ll usually review what was taught in lectures, cover homework topics, take quizzes, and have time to ask additional questions. More often than not, attendance is taken during recitation, so don’t skip this!
Textbooks or Other Literature
Almost every single one of your college classes is going to have some type of book requirement whether it’s a textbook or some kind of literature. Make sure to scan through the list and double-check that you have what you need. Often times, you can get by with an older edition or a digital copy – this is a great hack to save some money!
Some professors have very specific ways that they’d like homework to be turned in. This will be outlined in your syllabus. Hunt for these because some professors are extremely strict and will only take your homework if it’s to their liking.
Examples include: no staples, staples only in the top left corner, must be stapled, must include your full name and course number, no lined paper, only graph paper, etc.
There is usually a standard grading scale that your professors outline at the beginning of the semester. This may change before final grades are reported as they usually adjust the scale to coordinate with where the class is sitting as a whole. They need a good bell curve.
As you’re going through your different syllabi for the semester, keep in mind that every professor is different and every syllabus will be different too. Identifying and understanding these different parts of your syllabus will help you to better prepare for the semester and ultimately set you up for success.