Rumor has it that Syllabus Week is every college student’s saving grace at the beginning of a new semester. The idea that the first week of classes lack any academic substance is certainly a preferable outlook for many students. It’s a topic that trends on Twitter and other social media sites. But despite what our favorite memes and Buzzfeed articles may suggest, an easy first week of classes is no guarantee.
“Syllabus Week…it kind of depends on the professor,” said Jessica Rodriguez, a junior business administration and marketing major. “Either you’ll have a class where you really do just go over the syllabus, or you’ll have a class where you actually go straight into the lesson and the professor will assign homework, talk about projects, stuff like that.”
This seems to be the general consensus among students. Even those who agree that Syllabus Week exists promise it won’t last long.
“It might last the first class but it won’t go over the first two classes,” said senior biology major Tatyana Severe.
It’s important to prepare yourself for the Syllabus Week you might have and not the one you want to have. Be sure to collect all the supplies you may need early on, learn where resources are on campus and have the flexibility in your schedule to start studying as soon as you need to.
“I think many students are unprepared and the students who are prepared are typically the one I know are going to respond well,” said Christine Jackson, professor for the department of literature and modern languages. Jackson prefers to jump right into the curriculum rather than waste valuable time. She typically reaches out to students via email to let them know what to expect the first day of class and she tries to build a relationship with her students.
“I think that starts the very first day,” Jackson said, “I try to show students respect when they first come in and ask them questions. I also try to show them that I respect the material and that it’s important material for them to know.”
If your courses aren’t exceptionally rigorous the first week, don’t see it as a hall pass. There are still plenty of things that can and should be done during syllabus week to help you get ahead.
“I think you should pay attention when you’re in class so you know either ‘I’m going to stay in this class’ or ‘no this class isn’t for me’,” Adam DeRoss, junior communication major, said. “Syllabus week is also the last week to add or drop classes without penalty. So I would say definitely pay attention and make sure you’ll be okay with being in these classes for the next half -year.”
Ultimately, keep in mind that academics should take priority. Don’t shirk off responsibilities because it’s only the first week. Taking the time to figure out your schedule and build relationships with your professors will make the semester less stressful and allow you to thrive.
“Get your calendar and write down all the important dates coming up and also make a connection with your professor as soon as possible,” Severe said.
Whether you’re a returning student or new to campus, each new semester is exciting for everyone. It presents Sharks with the opportunity to try something new and get one step closer to finding themselves. These first few weeks of classes are supposed to be enjoyable.
“College is about finding balance and you don’t need to go crazy to have fun,” Rodriguez said. “As long as you get a feel for your schedule that week, you can make time for having fun with your friends and figure out time for homework.”
So, explore the events planned for the Weeks of Welcome, make plans with new friends and become as involved as you can. Understand that all these experiences are part of the ultimate college journey and not simply a perk of Syllabus Week.
PHOTO CREDIT: J. KOPEC