t is challenging to appreciate all the resources available to you when you begin to take college classes. One of the most obvious yet potentially underestimated resource is the class syllabus. Everything you need to know will probably be on the a course in miracles, let’s briefly discuss what value each item provides.
Chapters Covered – Typically, general physics books are huge: in content, size and weight. Rarely is all of the material covered in one semester or quarter. Rather, the instructor will select relevant chapters and sections of interest. This is important since the lecture notes usually are a one to one match in introductory courses (this is not true in advance courses where the book is merely a reference to the material). Look at the chapters covered, physically page through and introduce your mind to the subject. Many times there are brief biographies of people who have made significant contributions to the field. Be inspired, you are capable of achieving great things as well.
Test Dates – Mark the dates and times in your daily calendar now – both your physical and e-calendar as well. These are clearly can’t miss dates. If you are in a large lecture hall, you may be required to take the test at a different building and/or a different time than the lecture. If you are taking other classes, note any overlaps and let the instructor know of any problems as soon as possible.
Point System – Do the math: most of the points in this class are probably earned in the last month of the course (lab, quizzes, tests and final). Embrace this fact and remain involved in your studies, especially during the last month. Many, yes many students change paths after the first class and lose interest: this is your opportunity to fully employ your strategy for excelling in the class and riding high on the grade curve into the final.
Grading Policy – Here you’ll find some basic need to know information. How are grades determined? What percentage are from lab, quizzes, homework, tests, and the final? How are test given- multiple choice, short question and answer, word problems? Who grades the test- the instructor, teaching assistants? How are points assigned for work submitted? Ask- are there examples of what a completely solved problem should look like?
Office Hours and Location – Are Tutoring Opportunities available from the instructor and/or the teaching assistant? Email and Telephone Contact Information – This may or may not be available-in large classes since it is impossible to address queries especially since student “emergencies” happen often around due dates and test dates.
etc.. Ask if there are other references, including suggested books. Many times the instructor used an older edition of the same book or another book entirely when they composed their lecture notes. You may uncover this hidden gold if they’ve listed more additional references. What do you do with the syllabus? Get a binder notebook and a three-pronged hole puncher and make this the cover page for your class. The syllabus is now your table of contents for your personal notes.