It was a brilliant, perfect plan– that is, until it was time for execution. On Tuesday of the first week of classes, I had to wonder whether the schedule I had masterminded was more genius or masochistic.
Once I realized that there was a chance at a two-day school week this semester, I was determined. After all, I’m a junior still not done mourning the loss of our beloved quarter system (and with the mindset that every weekend should be a three-day weekend).
On quarters, it was easy—just load up on two-hour classes. On semesters, it’s like a death sentence every Tuesday and Thursday. But I did it.
My first day of classes wasn’t until Tuesday, resulting in a Syllabus Day marathon. All of my classes became a blur. Sometime around my second or third of five classes, I started to notice the pattern of the first day. My professors were all using different words, but somehow the same message was conveyed. These are my observations of Syllabus Day, Spring 2014 Edition:
1. The “no texting” rule instituted in almost every class is no surprise, yet somehow, inevitably, there is always someone texting right in front of you when the professor reaches that point in the syllabus.
2. Then there are the professors who either activate Blackboard or send out emails with the syllabus attached one minute before class begins, and then say, “You got that right?” Referring back to my last observation, those are almost always the professors who have clear “no cellphone rules.” So actually, no, I didn’t get that syllabus you sent from the front of the room just seconds ago.
3. In every class, regardless of the year or subject, someone will have an obnoxious ringtone. Instead of being annoying, it’s actually a unique exercise in class bonding when it goes off. My favorite so far was the person with Helga yelling “Hey Arnold!” as his or her ringtone. Even our phone-Nazi professor laughed.
4. There are two big sigh-of-relief worthy moments that can happen on Syllabus Day. The first are the words “the textbook is not required.” And the second is, “the final is not cumulative.”
5. Ultimately though, you will need some textbooks, and the best professors are the ones who understand the broke college student mentality and suggest Amazon. Then they’ll go into a detailed description of the homework assignment straight from the book due in two days, which leaves you wondering, “You do realize Amazon doesn’t deliver like Domino’s, right?” There isn’t a 30 minutes or it’s free.
6. The worst classes are the ones you go into knowing that none of your friends are taking it, so the dread sets in when you walk into the room and the only face you recognize is that one person from that one time whose name you don’t remember and they clearly have no recollection of ever meeting you. So you sit alone and text your friends about how awful it is. Then the professor mentions the group project and you frantically look around for others like you.
7. The person who smells like weed is always sitting in front of you.
8. Someone will walk in 20 minutes late, even on syllabus day. The best instance I’ve seen of this is when a guy showed up on time, left, and then came back half an hour later to sit down on the floor and eat a cheeseburger. He set the precedent high.
9. Speaking of food, the classes where professors forbid it will always be at noon.
10. The first and most important thing you do as soon as you get the syllabus is search for the class schedule and do an assessment of the workload and try to calculate how much your life will suck this semester.
11. Then you search for the final and the dread immediately sets in when you see the 8 a.m. exam you have on the last day of finals. You will spend the next 15 weeks hating that class, if only for that reason.
12. Then there are the professors who do not recognize Syllabus Day as a college holiday and our need to adjust to our sudden loss of freedom. They launch into a full-blown lecture. This will almost always be your last class of the day.
So that’s what I’ve noticed. I only have one more of these Syllabus Days, but I think I’ve got it down. It really is the same thing repeated class after class, semester after semester. The professors change, but the experience is always the same.