Every class has a syllabus that is considered a roadmap of the course and contains all the information needed to successfully complete the course. Students are responsible for reading the syllabus in detail and understanding all the information. One part of the syllabus includes school and/or program resources and the other part of the syllabus is a guide to course-specific schedules, assignments, and grading. Review each course syllabus for the following types of information.
School and Administrative Information
This section of the syllabus is a great resource that can be used as a reference when you need specific information that may pertain to you personally. Review this section so you are aware of the information and resources that are available to all students enrolled in the school. Most schools have a mandatory syllabus template that all professors use and this type of school-related information should be the same in all school syllabi.
- Academic calendar
- Disability accommodations information and contact
- Technology requirements
- Tech support
- Academic advising
- Success resources
- Writing Center
The most important part of the syllabus deals with expectations for students’ successful completion of the course. This section of the syllabus can make the difference between success and failure in the course. While the school-related section of the syllabus is the same in all courses, students should not assume that all course-related information is the same. This course information section will vary by professor in their expectations for participation, timeliness in submitting assignments, and sometimes even in the quality and quantity of work required to make top scores. Do be sure to read every class syllabus carefully and make notes, lists, and calendars according to the specific information included for each class. Professors have different expectations and policies so you should always read the syllabus carefully and review the contents on a regular basis. Your professors want you to use the syllabus on a weekly basis to ensure you are following the requirements of the course.
- Course description
- Course learning objectives/outcomes
- Required text/readings
- Professor information, office hours, and contact
- Course requirements and prerequisites
- Academic integrity policy
- Detailed course schedule of topics and assigned work
- Grading information (breakdown of points for each work requirement)
- Attendance/participation policies
- Late work policies
- Extra credit policies
- Assignment descriptions (discussions, papers, projects, group work, quizzes, exams)
- Success and study strategies
- Time management tips (how much time will be needed weekly to complete the readings, discussions, and written work)
While the organization may be different in each syllabus, the general types of information will remain the same. Review each course syllabus at least once a week and make your own notes, lists, and calendar for course expectations, assignment schedules, and grading procedures. Note your instructor’s office hours and email/question response time. Remember that communication is a vital factor in success in every course. Know how and when to contact your instructor if you have a problem in your course so you don’t fall behind in your work. Once you have read the syllabus and noted important communication information, assignment descriptions, due dates, and assessment criteria, do be sure to ask questions about anything about which you need clarification.