7 Things You Need to Know About Your Course Syllabus

When does the class meet and where? What textbook do I need for this class? How do I know what assignment to do next and its due date? Who is the professor and how do I contact him? All these are very important questions that can be answered through the syllabus.

Course Syllabus

There are seven key points that your course syllabus should contain.

1. Contact Information

Access to your professor depends on the quality of his/her contact information. Many professors give their cell number or personal email, so they are easily accessible. A call can quickly clear up issues instead of having to wait.

2. Office Hours

Colleges require that all professors (whether adjunct or tenured) have office hours so that students will have reasonable access. Professors generally have offices located in the same building as classes are held (but this will depend on the availability of the college’s administrative space).

3. Course Description/Contents

A description and overview of the course will let you know the professor’s approach to the course. From this description, you can plan and ask questions or voice concerns before class begins.

4. Textbooks/Materials

You will save time and money if you purchase the right textbook the first time. Especially if you are renting or purchasing used textbooks on line. The smart students get their syllabi (plural for syllabus) as soon as they are available and purchase the required textbooks and/or materials early.

5. Assignments/Tests

At a glance, you will know the next assignment or test date. Are there make-up tests? If the professor does not give make-ups for missed tests; you know that you cannot be absent on test days.

6. Grading Policies

Although your college has grading standards; each professor has their way of grading assignments and tests within the college’s standards. Does the professor offer ways to earn extra credit? Additional points can make the difference between a grade of a B or an A.

7. Professor Policies and Standards

What does the professor expect from the student and what things can the student expect from the professor? Keen insight is gained about the professor’s demeanor. Does he/she have a relaxed or rigid attitude about absenteeism?

The syllabus can be a great reference for quizzes, tests, midterms, and finals. As soon as your syllabi are available, you should fully familiarize yourself with their contents. Make it a habit to review and read any chapters before class. Keep it close for a handy reference and make additional copies, if necessary.