Syllabus Week: A Time To Get Organized

Syllabus week, (syl·la·bus [week]) noun: A five-day period, usually the first full week of school, where professors go over policies and expectations for their respective classes, hand out a piece of paper that lists course topics, and lets students out of class early.

The week sounds like a breeze, right? Many students use syllabus week as a transition period between their lazy summer days and their soon-to-be swamped autumn nights. Although school has technically started, many brains are still in summer mode, trying to hold onto the last few days before the real work will begin.

Since professors usually don’t overload their students with course work during syllabus week, it is likely that you won’t need to be doing homework for most classes, and as a result will be teased with an excess amount of free time.

Some students look at this week as a chance to party, stay up late, or laze around a dorm room before the real work is set to begin.

Instead of taking that route, I strongly encourage you to use this extra free time to become as organized as possible before classes start to become difficult. Yes, you can still have fun (I’m not suggesting that you hole yourself up in the library with your highlighter surrounded by syllabi, that would be crazy), but it’s often a good idea to begin to plan for the upcoming year.

During syllabus week…

  • Buy a Planner: Planners are a great way to stay organized. Write down the assignments from all of your syllabi so you know when crucial due dates will be coming up (your professor probably won’t be reminding you, it will be up to you to remember deadlines). That way, you won’t be searching through mounds of papers trying to figure out what assignment is due when and for what class. If paper planners aren’t really your thing, set up a calendar through g-mail or track due dates using a smart phone.
  • Organize School Supplies and Textbooks: Make sure you have everything you need for your classes in terms of notebooks, folders, textbooks, etc. Some students wait until after syllabus week to purchase these items, which can sometimes lead them to fall behind early on in the course of the semester when they have reading assigned in a textbook that they don’t even have.
  • Finish Unpacking and Organize Your New Space:  If you need to buy things for your dorm room that you forgot to pack (like a fan-some dorms don’t have air conditioning), a good time to run last minute errands is during syllabus week. Also, make sure everything in your dorm is up and running (what’s the use of a broken printer once you need to print an essay?), and get it fixed if it’s not.

Syllabus week is a great time to prepare for the upcoming year so that you can feel more relaxed once your course load begins to pick up. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go out, explore the campus and have fun with friends during the week–many of your first social connections will be made at the beginning of the year—but don’t be reckless and ruin your sleep schedule before classes begin. Trust me, you’ll regret it.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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