3 Tips to Master the Art of the Syllabus
On your first day of classes, you will likely receive what is called a syllabus from each of your professors. This magical little packet is basically your guide to the course and what the professor expects of their students. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your syllabi (plural) and why you should not let it fall forgotten to the bottom of your desk drawer.
1. Put the professor’s contact information into your phone.
No, you will not be texting them but I can’t say how many times it has helped me when I had their email on hand instead of searching the internet, or for my syllabus, in order to contact them.
Pro-tip #1: put the professor’s class location, office location, and office hours into the notes section of their contact. The location will become a muscle memory for you but you will probably forget what the actual room number is. You never know when you will need this info and you may need it. Also include any other specifics about themselves they mention day one that could help you later (this could also be in the syllabus but something like email versus phone calls for appointments, etc.).
2. Buy a UVic calendar and put all important dates into it.
Each syllabus will likely have an outline of all major assignments and tests, so go through all of them and put those dates in your calendar so you won’t be blindsided by it later on.
Pro-tip #2: color code your courses on your calendar so you get an idea of the work load for the next week or month at a glance.
Pro-tip #3: the bookstore sells UVic specific calendars that includes important dates like when classes begin, when the university is closed, some drop dates and deadlines. It is much easier to have the calendar than to go searching.
3. Combine all outlines into a master syllabus.
I am a visual learner and like having a physical copy of things. Most syllabi will have a couple pages in common such as policies or UVic’s grading chart. I usually remove all extraneous pages once I have the info, take all the course outlines, and staple them together. Boom, you now have one packet with your entire term’s work in one place, no fumbling around trying to find the right one. Keep this in an easily accessible place where you won’t lose it.
There you have it, my guide to mastering the art of the syllabus. I can honestly say this system has saved me so much time and stress, and it may do the same for you. Happy syllabi-ing!