How helpful is syllabus week?
By Ismael Sotolongo
As another syllabus week passes by, students get into the swing of college life. Some of us dusted ourselves off and prepared for what’s to come. Others stepped onto campus grounds for the very time as freshman. Others haphazardly stumbled out of their car, too early for their liking, walked halfway onto library lawn before realizing they hadn’t purchased any school supplies, and had to drive to the nearest Dollar Store to buy as much as they could carry.
Every syllabus week the age-old question arises: Do we need syllabus week? Syllabus week is that awkward period of class when students and professors haven’t accepted the fact that they need to get up every morning and—ugh—function. Instead of a typical school week, it ends up being more like a college-level “Meet the Teacher Day.”
Because of the nature of classes during this week, a lot of students find syllabus week pointless and even redundant. It’s a reasonable complaint: why do we need to come to class to go over something we can just as easily go over ourselves before classes start? Simply put, because it provides a valuable period of readjustment and introduction to the beginning of what will no doubt be a hectic semester.
To throw students back into school after break and expect them to immediately adapt to their new schedules, especially at the beginning of a semester where it may be the first time in college for any number of students is a difficult challenge. Syllabus week provides a more forgiving “pre-class” week that allows everyone to get accustomed with college life.
However, it is fair for the veterans of campus life to be less than happy about trudging through syllabus week again and again. So maybe instead of maintaining the current status quo or abolishing syllabus week entirely, we can reach a compromise. Syllabus week could require attendance for Freshman or first-semester transfer students, but be optional for everyone else. Anyone who chooses not to attend, would only need to make sure to complete all required attendance verifications for their classes. This way, it would still be each student’s responsibility to prepare for the new semester and allow more experienced students to have a precious extra week of rest.
In the end, the goal of syllabus week is to make sure students are prepared. By still presenting the opportunity for any student to attend, but granting the freedom of choice to upperclassmen, we can ensure efficiency and preparation without alienating any students.