Syllabus week is only the easiest and shortest five days of the semester. After all, it’s one of the few times when you can attend class but not actually need to be present, right?
Syllabus week is a lot of things (i.e. obtuse, uneventful, lethargic etc.) but it is not a waste of time.
It’s not uncommon to overlook the importance of syllabus week, assuming that most, if not all, professors hold the same expectations. Sure, the majority of instructors will simply go over grading policies and general course information. However, paying attention and getting organized before the going gets tough will only make things easier as the semester progresses. Here’s a few tips to start off your semester off on the right note:
1. Invest in a (Quality) Planner
We’ve been trained to use weekly planners since elementary school, but are we taught how to use them properly once we’re out there in the real world? For some, the answer is yes…but for most? The answer is wtf, how do you use a planner wrong?… For starters, make sure your planner has both (and separate) monthly and weekly sections. You need to be able to map out the big things, like games, club meetings, vacations etc. on a large scale and connected plot. However, homework assignments and tests need some space to breathe. AKA, there should be lots of room to write down different assignments and important notes that go along with them. Don’t wait until you forget the details about an assignment or presentation to start writing them out. Get in the habit of it now while there’s not much else on your plate.
2. Separation is a Good Thing
There’s a variety of successful methods to organizing your work, but most students find success in keeping their courses separate. A system as simple as having individual notebooks and pocket folders for each class can really make a difference when you’re trying to find something. We all remember that kid from middle school who kept EVERYTHING (literally, everything) in one freaking binder. Did it ever go well? No. Don’t be that kid. You’re an academic.
3. Never Underestimate the Power of Office Supplies
It’s better to have something and not need it than need something and not have it. Get your flashcards, sticky notes, highlighters etc. ready to go. You may not need them this week, but you can bet your a** you’re gonna need them the next. Plus, it’s always kind of fun to roam around staples aimlessly and irresponsibly purchase the most expensive pen in the store. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay motivated, right? #girlboss
4. Secure Your Study Space
Since you’re not likely to be overloaded with work this week, take time to hone your study zone. Whether you’re a library leech or prefer the comfort of your own bed, figure out where (and under what conditions) you work best, especially if you’re a procrastinator. You never want to be stuck cramming for an exam, only to find yourself distracted and unable to soak up your textbook.
5. Know Office Hours
The first week of classes is a great time to get familiar with your professors’ office hours. You may think you won’t need them but, odds are if you don’t get to know them now, you won’t ever — even if you do need them down the line.
6. Dress to Impress
While you certainly don’t need to look like you’re headed to prom, a little effort goes a long way. This is a great opportunity to make an impression on your professors and peers, but it’s also a chance to start the semester off with the confidence that’ll carry you through even the toughest exams and the harshest professors.