Posts Tagged ‘college classes’

The College Class Syllabus….

Every college student gets them. But, what happens after that?

Do they end up at the bottom of a backpack, as a crumbled mess, or in a desk drawer?

After all, the instructor will remind me of everything throughout the semester anyway, right?

Wrong.

Dead wrong.

Most instructors will assume you are an adult and will act as a responsible one. Therefore, as soon as you get your syllabus, you have a hot date that night. Syllabus+Planner+YOU.

I’d also suggest grabbing some highlighters, colored pens, stickers… and whatever else you might want to help you recognize at a glance, what you need to be doing. The Syllabus MUST Meet Planner

Now it’s time to hack your syllabus… break it into bits and prepare a plan that will help you manage your college life.

First things first: Begin by writing EVERY test, project deadline, research paper deadline, or anything else that has a due date in your planner.  If you are the kind of person who likes things to be a fancy-pants, use stickers, highlighters or colored pens to color-code everything. For example, everything related to biology is written in green, everything related to English Comp is written in blue, etc. Highlight all tests with a yellow highlighter, and paper due dates with a orange highlighter.

Next: Do some back planning. For every deadline, count back an appropriate number of days and set a “start date” for starting to begin test prep or writing a paper. For example, you should allow 5 good study days for every exam, at minimum.

So, if you have an exam on October 25, count back 5 days in your planner and write, “Prepare study materials for Psychology test #3. On day 2,  you might write, “Study for Psychology test #3.” Continue with the notations over the next 3 days. For a large research paper, you might want to count back 2 weeks and write “Begin research for British Literature paper.” The next day you might write “continue British Lit research.” Depending on the size and depth of your paper, you may want to begin writing it 1 week prior to the due date, so you would note this in  your planner, as well.

Keep in mind: If there are days you have things going on and cannot study for your test or work on your paper, then you need to add an additional day when you set your start date for studying or preparing for a project. college-planner

NOW…. if you do this with ALL of your syllabi,  it will take a while, but it is well worth the investment of your time. Having a detailed planner goes a long way towards college success.

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What I’m going to say may go against the advice you receive from your college adviser.  Most of us are guided to put together a class schedule similar to the way we would put together a puzzle. “Let’s see… I need a class that will fit in this time frame, and I also need something that meets this requirement…. Hey, this one works!” And, so….you’re in!

Can I recommend a different strategy? Long before the enrollment period begins, ask your classmates a lot of questions about the classes they are taking. And I’m not taking about asking “Do you like Dr. Doright?” That is a purely subjective question that will tell you nothing.  Instead ask, “What is it you do or don’t like about his classes?”  This will help you evaluate better whether the instructor will be a good fit for you and your learning style. Find out if the instructor requires a lot of writing, or if the tests are multiple choice, essay, or whatever.  Ask about the types of assignments, the structure of lectures, whether a teaching assistant grades tests, or whatever is important to you, as a student. The more you learn about the professors and the experiences other students are having with them, the more likely you will find the best professors on campus.

Don’t you want to get the biggest “bang” for your educational bucks? Believe it or not, the few years you spend in college will be over before you know it, and you want to be donning the cap and gown knowing that it truly represents what you came there to receive. You should be ending your college career knowing that you have gained usable knowledge and developed necessary skills for your chosen field. If you don’t end up with that, you have wasted a lot of time and money.