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What To (Really!) Expect from Your First Syllabus Week

By Jessica Ward

Ah, syllabus week. On paper, fifteen weeks is a long time. If you’re sitting in a classroom without air conditioning in the middle of August, December feels like a lifetime away. Syllabus week is your time to plan the entire semester- from assigned reading to tests to due dates, all the important stuff is right in front of you. Here’s what to expect at your first rodeo.

1. You will feel completely overwhelmed
But this is a 101 level class… Why are there so many projects? It’s easy to freak out when the list of projects is longer than you’re used to, and it’s easy to forget you’re not the only one feeling the sting. The truth is, the semester overview is not the day-to-day reality. Keep in mind that you’ll work on these assignments throughout the semester, not all at once. All those due dates are scary at first, but become way less threatening once you’re actually in the groove of things.

2. You’ll learn attendance (probably) isn’t mandatory, but don’t celebrate yet
Fun fact: many colleges and universities don’t actually require class attendance. If you’re one of the lucky ones to hear this news, it’ll sound like smooth sailing for a semester. It’s natural to feel relieved, even excited, but remember why you’re there. You could miss out on great discussion and new perspectives if you do the readings but never go to class. Your schedule may be more flexible now, but with that comes more responsibility.

3. You probably won’t be able to show up ten minutes early
Yes, it’s good to get to class early and make a good first impression, but unless your lecture is at 8am, the classroom will likely be occupied until the academic block is over. If you’re an early bird, this might come as a real culture shock. Lucky for you, that means you can take a little extra time waking up and getting prepared for the day— just not too much!

4. You’ll try dining hall food for the first time!
For better or worse, the dining hall is undeniably the most convenient option to eat at college, and odds are you’ll find yourself here between classes on your first day. Dining halls across the country are getting better at providing students with more options, so no matter your dietary restrictions, they’ll have something for you! (And grab another coffee while you’re there. Trust us.)

5. You’ll walk into the wrong classroom
Happens to the best of us. Don’t worry about it.

6. You’ll introduce yourself a thousand times
Okay, not literally a thousand, but it’ll feel like it. You know those old ice breakers from the first day of class in high school? Yeah, those still exist in college. Get your “fun fact about you” ready ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard!

7. You’ll get invited to something!
From club recruitment to classmates looking for study buddies, you’ll feel like a celebrity with the amount of new faces asking you to join them on Wednesday night. You never know where these opportunities will take you over the next four years, so do something that excites you!

8. You’ll be exhausted
It’ll be new and exciting, but nonetheless it’s still a transition period. Take extra care of yourself- make a cup of tea or give yourself a bedtime if you can. Your mental health will thank you for it.

9. You’ll get to know your roommate a little more!
You won’t have the same schedule, but you’ll have enough time together towards the end of the day to catch up on what’s going on with the other. It’ll be good to have someone on your side after long days, and maybe you’ll even watch a few episodes of your favorite show together if you’re lucky!

10. You’ll get caught up in the madness
Hey, it’s only natural. You’ll have a million thoughts and emotions happening at once, and you’ll feel like you don’t have a moment’s peace. If you can, catch your breath, and remember this is only the beginning. You have so much to look forward to— enjoy it!

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