One Syllabus at a Time

by The Cowl Editor on October 18, 2018


Photo of syllabi on a table.
Having a semester-long syllabus for every class can be overwhelming, especially at the start of a new semester. Photo courtesy of Start School Now.

by Emily Ball ’22

Opinion Staff


Syllabus week: the first week of classes, the week where college professors throw their semester-long, jam-packed class syllabi at you, the bane of any college student’s existence. 

A typical college syllabus contains a day-by-day outline for the entire semester. It usually includes information about what each class will consist of and what homework is due on that specific day. Professors expect students to check the syllabus daily in order to see what homework is due for the next class.

“Having a syllabus stresses me out because I feel like if I do not check it multiple times a day, I am going to miss an assignment,” said Allie Eurell ’22. 

Although it is often helpful to have a road map of each class, syllabi create unnecessary stresses when it comes to due dates and assessments in the foreseeable future.

“Having such a detailed syllabus makes a course more like a series of assignments that you just have to get through, rather than promoting a desire to actually learn and engage with the material,” said Kate Donohue ’22. 

A majority of college students get nervous and anxious when they hear the word “exam.” The issue with syllabi is that they identify the date of each exam that students will take, creating unnecessary apprehension about future exams even weeks in advance. 

“I benefit from knowing in advance what I will be doing, but sometimes I become nervous looking at the long lists of things to complete in multiple classes,” Matt Lussier ’22 said. “It definitely makes me a little anxious knowing the huge amount of assignments left in the semester.”

Some students may argue that having the dates of exams far in advance is beneficial because they can prepare for exams ahead of time; Aidan Schifano ’22 is one of those students, “I like the syllabus, it lets me plan out my week and my month. It makes me more prepared for my classes.”

However, focusing on preparing for exams and assignments in advance would take away from one’s focus on assignments due sooner. Further, preparation for exams does not need more than one to two weeks, so students really do not need notice regarding exams until then.

Everybody needs time to relax and rewind after a stressful day but having the looming apprehension of future assignments can prevent students from fully relaxing. Instead of putting on a Netflix show and sitting back to relax, a college student may choose to get ahead on future assignments because they have the syllabus telling them what is due in the future.

“It’s difficult to relax when there are still so many assignments and examinations in the future, and the time it takes to plan out one’s schedule detracts from the already stressful and busy life that a college student leaves,” said Alex Cannon ’22. 

One alternative that college professors could implement is a weekly, online syllabus. This way, each week’s assignments are available and students can get ahead on assignments that are due later that week, without stressing about assignments and exams due in upcoming weeks or months.

With a weekly syllabus, students do not have to worry about upcoming exams that month or even later that semester.

College professors could announce exam dates two weeks in advance to allow proper preparation without the nerves encircling the exam burdening students far in advance.

Having a weekly syllabus posted online would also save paper, as most college professors print enough copies of their syllabi for classes with up to 100 students in a Development of Western Civilization lecture. 

Although the usage of a syllabus is functional right now, implementing an online, weekly syllabus will eliminate a level of stress for college students and allow them to relax more instead of worrying about what is to come.