Surviving Syllabus Week

I thrive on routine; while it was nice to have a few weeks off during the Holiday Season, I was more than ready to get back to school for the second semester. That said, no matter how excited I am about classes starting again, it is always a bit of an adjustment to go from having plenty of relaxation time to an abundance of responsibilities.

During undergrad, especially freshman and sophomore year, professors tended to ease us back into the swing of things. We fondly called this adjustment period “Syllabus Week,” because at least the first day of class simply involved going over the syllabus, defining the expectations for the course, and answering any questions. Things are not quite that laidback at the graduate level. Professors still tend to briefly outline the syllabus, but then are quick to get into the material. Because of this, it is important to come into Day 1 prepared to start the semester on as strong a note as possible.

Here are some of my tips for making the most of “Syllabus Week”:

  • Review the syllabus prior to the first day of class. Most professors in the Fisher College of Business utilize “Carmen” (also known as “Canvas”) to house their course materials. This means that students generally have access to at least the syllabus, if not some of the readings. Take advantage of this! If you are familiar with the syllabus, you’ll be better prepared to get questions answered.
  • Research what books you will need. I know a lot of people are adamant that you should not purchase anything until the first day of classes in case a professor has a book listed that you won’t actually use. I, on the other hand, prefer to have all my books ahead of time. Not only does this afford me the opportunity to shop around to get the best deals, I am prepared to dive into the readings and don’t have to waste time trying to locate a copy of the text. At the very least, even if you don’t buy any of your books, take some time to figure out what books are required and where you can get the best price.
  • Make time for fun! Do not overlook how important this is! It can be easy to get overwhelmed but it is critical to keep everything in perspective. I definitely made the mistake first semester of not allowing myself to do more enjoyable things. For example, this past week, I went to see “La La Land” with two friends from the program. Obviously the academics are incredibly important, but the MAcc program is about the entire experience, not just what happens in the classroom.