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College Syllabi: What to do with your Class' Syllabus

Updated on January 29, 2016

It is your first day of classes and you have just received your syllabi. What do you do with them? How are you supposed to remember all of these due dates and exam dates? Here are some tips for using your syllabi to ace your classes.


Tip One: Read It Over

Read your syllabus. Read every word on it. Important information is often masked in the huge chunks of text. Make sure that you go over everything on the paper, even if you think you know what it will say (ex. The Academic Honesty portion that is on every single syllabus ever).

If you have questions about what any of it means or what any of the assignments are, ask your professor. Professors love it when students ask questions, because that means that you are paying attention and you want to learn.


Tip Two: Mark it up like Crazy

Mark up your syllabus. If it's online, print it out. This will make it a lot easier to remember due dates.

Here are some different ideas for marking up your syllabus:

  • Highlight: Highlight important due dates, exam dates, and dates of breaks. Highlight all of these categories in different colors (ex. due dates in yellow, exam dates in pink, and dates of breaks in green).
  • Star: Draw stars beside any important dates. These stars will catch your eye and make you look at the date and remember it.
  • Write Notes: Have a paper due after a long break? Write a note for yourself to work on it during break so you don't get behind. Know that you have an important paper due for another class the same day as an exam for this class? Write it down so that you remember to save time to do both.
  • Underline: Underline requests from your teacher, such as what font they prefer, what type of citations they prefer, etc.

Do anything that will help you to remember what you need to do for the class.

Tip Three: Put it Somewhere Easy to Find

Now that you are done marking up your syllabus, put it somewhere where you can easily find it. Put it in the front pocket of your binder where you will see it every time you work on the class. Hole-punch it and make it the first page of your binder or folder. Tape it to the inside of your notebook. Even make copies and put them up in your dorm room.

If you are constantly seeing your syllabus, you will be reminded to look at it, and you will be more likely to remember due dates.


Tip Four: Write it out!

Once you have your syllabi read through and marked up, write down the important dates from all of your classes in once place. If all of your due dates and exam dates are in one place, you will know what your work load for the day/week looks like ahead of time. This will give you time to plan ahead and get work done early if you know that you will have multiple tasks due on the same day.

I recommend getting a planner to write everything in. I prefer physical planners to online ones, because writing things out by hand helps you to remember them (this is scientifically proven), and you can decorate it the way that you want to.

I recently bought a planner off of Amazon to use for the semester. It is perfect for me because it has a note section right in the front to write down my class schedule, followed by a view of the upcoming months so I can write in my breaks, and then a day-by-day layout to write down important due dates, exam dates, and appointments.

The planner is below. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Staying organized is important in college, and keeping track of your syllabi is essential to organization. Make sure that you keep your syllabi close throughout the year. Enjoy the new semester!

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