At the start of each semester, I sit down and go through the syllabus for each of my classes. Often, syllabi will be bookended with a schedule for the semester, listing dates for readings, quizzes, exams and projects. At some point in the last few years, I made a stylish spreadsheet template to track all this information.
Last semester, I found this resource indispensable and key to my academic success. Being able to look at one document to find everything I needed to do any given week allowed me to organize my time very effectively. If I had multiple quizzes or an unusual amount of reading to do, I could block out extra time days or weeks in advance.
Unfortunately, I have not been so lucky this semester. Only two of the five courses I am taking provided a detailed schedule for the class. Of the remaining three, one provides a weekly schedule uploaded right before class on Monday, another has an ever-changing and vague outline and the last feels as if it is being planned one class session at a time.
As someone who struggles with time management, having an outline of what needs done and when is tremendously valuable to me. Without it, I get anxious about assignments and looming deadlines.
Instead of looking in one central place, I must search paper copies of syllabi, sort through endless emails and delve into various tabs on D2L. All that extra effort to find out what I need to do causes unnecessary stress. All of which can be easily avoided.
None of that is intended to disparage my professors, mind you. I sincerely appreciate the dedication and hard work that they put into teaching these courses, some of which they have been teaching for over a decade. I respect our faculty’s academic independence and different teaching styles, and I do not mean to dictate how they teach their courses.
Rather, I would like to offer some constructive criticism for our faculty: adding schedules to your syllabi can help students succeed. Students’ schedules are already a mess. Between classes, extracurriculars and work, it can be hard to find time to read and study with such little notice. By giving them an idea of what the semester looks like ahead of time, you can help students get more out of the course.
I recognize that adding schedules might not work for every class. Some courses are naturally malleable or conversational and might not lend themselves to the rigidity a schedule might imply. But many, if not most courses could benefit from giving students the information they need to organize their time.