A long time ago, when universities were first founded, a magical and wonderful tradition was formed. Professors and students joined together to create Syllabus Week. During this special time, professors talk about class requirements and end class early. Students use the time to catch up with their friends they haven’t seen in a while, or if one is a freshman, to meet new people. Happiness is plentiful during syllabus week.


A dark cloud creeps in slowly over a student’s schedule called “really tough classes.” The cloud pours driving sheets of rain on Syllabus Week, bringing lightning and thunder to universities. Professors get agitated by the storm and decide that since they can’t be happy, no one can be. They decide to assign homework on the first day. Large projects begin next week. Nothing has an absolute due date just yet.

The poor students facing the storm of ‘really tough classes’ do not get to partake in everyone’s fun. They must complete the necessary assignments to start of the year strong. They might not know people in the class yet and are forced to work alone. These students get soaked in the rain.”

This year, the majority of my classes broke the golden rule of Syllabus Week. Not only did I stay in classes the whole allotted time but I also received homework for the very next class date. I did not get my “recess” time.  The storm ran over me and swirled me up in a tornado, and from that tornado, I watched my friends have all the fun.

Already a filled first week

Already a filled first week

Not only did I have to complete homework and therefore miss out on meeting up with friends, but my friends did not have the same situation as me. They did not understand that no, I was not making up an excuse to ditch them; I actually have work to do. There is a small population of students who do not get a Syllabus Week and those who have never experienced it just don’t understand.

Sometimes the syllabus itself is a problem. A full range of syllabi exist: a very detailed, date-filled syllabus to an idea-based, liquid, and ever-changing syllabus. Some professors put reading assignments on the date they’re due and some put them on the date they’ve been assigned as homework. Some put conceptualized dates and then change them as they go along. I need a detail-oriented syllabus with concrete dates to manage my schedule.

Despite the lack of frolicking fun, starting the school year without a break has prepared me for the upcoming semester. My friends are now cracking down to academia while I’ve already been here.

At the end of the storm, there is a brief period of warm weather and sunshine. Students hit by ‘really tough classes’ move forward as stronger academicians. That is, of course, until the journey to a 4.0 carries them over mountains, deserts, and oceans. Only then will they find a final break.

~Shannon Poulsen


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