Always Check the Syllabus

Remember that huge packet that you received the first day of class, detailing the entire semester? The one that you probably stuffed in a folder to await incineration? Well, that packet is a syllabus and it is your professors way of not having to remind you that you have homework due tomorrow.

I’ve always thought this was kind of a cruel “immunity” that professors claim. Now that I’m on the other side of the spectrum, however, I understand their reasoning a little better. For those of you who attend a large university, think about how many students are in any given class with you; especially the general education/required courses. How many would you guess were in there, maybe 200-300 students? Now imagine if every single student were to send you, the professor, an email or stop by your office hours trying to remember when you told them the due date for a given assignment was. You would probably spend more time repeating yourself than getting any type of work completed.

While this may not be as big of an issue for professors at smaller schools, the syllabus (from now on referred to as the contract) allows you, the student, to have complete knowledge of when you are expected to hand things in or be prepared to take an exam by.

As I’ve mentioned before in an earlier post on the importance of the contract, this is literally a binding agreement between you and your professor essentially stating that,

Through this contract, I, the professor, hereby declare to uphold the learning objectives, delivery of course content, office hours and location with any and all amendments of this contract having been brought to your attention. It is the job of you, the student, to (1) uphold all of the rules and expectations that are detailed within this contract, (2) claim responsibility for any assignments detailed in the contract that are not completed, and lastly, (3) use as a reference guide throughout the remainder of the semester.”

The famed “syllabus week” (those of you in college will understand this) is for much more than being fine with missing the first week of school, be it physically and/or mentally. This may be one of the most important days of the semester because as soon as the professor goes over the contract with you, you have basically signed your name on the dotted line stating that you understand the terms and conditions.

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And please, please, PLEASE, don’t make the mistake of sending a professor an email asking him/her a question that could be answered by checking in your contract. That is the best way to ensure any future emails you send will be ignored right away if you’re lucky enough not to have them sent to their spam folder.
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5 thoughts on “Always Check the Syllabus”

  1. Don’t pay attention to those upperclassmen who tell you that syllabus week is not important. Some professors take attendance on the first day and others jump right in. Your first impression is sometimes your only impression.


  2. Although I have only been in college for a week now, I have found my syllabi to be extremely helpful. I prefer to lay out all of assignments on a calendar and having a syllabus for each class makes that a lot easier. Compared to high school syllabi, these are more in depth and have the answers to most questions I’ve come across.


  3. Although the first week of school seems to be cake, it can be pretty easy to not pay attention or be day dreaming. Always, always, always pay attention to “syllabus week” because I promise you will need to know what is going on and what is expected of you for that class.


  4. Most professors say that if the answer to an email is outlined in the syllabus they will either not respond to the question and or refer you back to the syllabus. Always check the syllabus before emailing your professor any question!


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