Don't Fear the Syllabus

One of my biggest issues at the beginning of the semester is that I get myself into a tizzy when the professor goes over the syllabus. I get all worked up about the assignments, even the ones that are due sometime in November. “How am I ever going to have that paper done before Thanksgiving?!” should not be a concern in early September. Thankfully, after the first class I never again need to look at the syllabus as a whole. Instead, it becomes a week-by-week guideline, which just seems so much more manageable.

Once the semester gets going, everything more or less falls into place. Readings get read, papers get written, and assignments get done. Sometimes it’s all a blur, and sometimes I decidedly labor over things that are miniscule in the scheme of things. For example, when posting to online class discussion forums I have been known to incorporate parallel structure, consult a thesaurus, and vacillate between using a semicolon or a dash. (Note: the posts are almost never graded on content and never graded on grammar, just that they are done.)

Despite my borderline neurotic writing quirks and syllabus-fearing tendencies, what I try to keep at the forefront is that I am here to learn. I’m learning about librarianship and preparing for my career, but I’m also learning about time management and preparing for life after school. A syllabus is just a collection of deadlines with which I must comply. It tells me what assignments I need to do, but not when I should work on them, how to do them, or how much time they might take. Maybe that’s why I don’t like the syllabus as a whole – it’s much easier for things to fall into place in a week- instead of semester-long schedule.

(Should it be a semicolon instead of a dash in the last sentence? Ahh!)

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