As a freshman, I had never heard the term “syllabus shock.” What could be so bad about a syllabus? Doesn’t everyone love them? They seemed harmless enough. So in my naivety I charged forward and started collecting these mysterious syllabi. One for Music Theory, one for Aural Skills, one for Choir, and one for Freshman Comp. By the end of the day, I had gathered a large sum of papers. I looked over them and thought “this is going to be easy” and then went to bed. The next day, I woke up, grabbed my backpack (I needed a place to put my new syllabi), and headed to class. One for Teacher Orientation, one for College Choir, and one for Recital Attendance. When I got to the cafeteria for lunch, I was expecting a syllabus for that too. I can handle this though! I really can. I hope I can.
More syllabi were handed out the next day. I even received a revised syllabus! What treachery was this? Is it even legal to give out so many pieces of paper? By the end of the week, I had enough syllabi to compose a novella. To make matters worse, I had not even organized them. So when I needed to know the class requirement for, say, my English class, I had to hunt through all my papers in order to do so: a process that took entirely too long. I wondered if this was a normal experience. Did it happen to everyone? How do people deal with it? What methods are effective for keeping track of my classes? Thankfully, Professor Stufft had some great tips that he learned from his Sunday school teacher. Each night, sit at a desk with your books (or syllabi) on the left side of the desk. Go through each one and review it. Do the work or read the book so the material stays fresh in your mind, and then put it on the right side of the desk. If you don’t want to do a certain subject yet, just put it back in the pile on the left. Make sure you take care of it before you go to bed though. This method helps you keep track of your classes and the topics stay fresh in your mind. If you do this every night you won’t have to worry about pop quizzes because you will be able to recall the answers from memory.
There is one downside to this method: It takes discipline! We would rather go to the coffee shop with friends than do homework. It is a lot easier to do fun things like hiking, playing card games, and sports. But if you use this method for one week, I am sure you will see how beneficial it is. Since I have started using this method, I have not gotten behind or missed an assignment; an indicator that this technique works.
One other routine I have gotten into is carrying my backpack around with all my papers in it. That way I can work on homework wherever I am. If I have a few extra minutes before class starts, I can take out my notebook and work on my Freshman Composition paper, or I can read a few verses for Spiritual Formation. The key is to actually do the work! Some students carry planners with them. This is a good idea because you can write down new assignments so you don’t lose track of them. Others may just write down the dates in a notebook. Whichever method you use, make sure it works for you.
Effective time management is a very important aspect of success at college. But it is also something that many college students (not just freshman) don’t know how to do well. So if you are feeling stressed or worried, talk to someone. Whether it be a friend or one of the school counselors, just find a good person to talk with. You may be surprised at how much it helps.