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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: What happened to syllabus week?

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Photo by Ebba Turi

Students sit on their computer during syllabus week in Evans Library. 

With the conclusion of the first week of classes, professors have jumped into coursework. However, for those as unlucky as me, professors seemed to come to a consensus that this semester students should have no time to adjust to their new schedules and instead immediately be assigned unreasonable amounts of work.
I had not one, not two, but three classes assigned homework due at the end of the first week.
To my shock, it’s not the typical syllabus quizzes or introduction discussions, but rather an assignment over half of a novel or a textbook reading response. What happened to the general understanding that students need time to adapt back to rigorous work schedules and tedious assignments?
While there isn’t a university policy against assigning homework on the first week, does that mean compassion and empathy should be neglected? Professors were once students themselves, so they should understand adapting back into the classroom takes some easing into. This is a push off a cliff.
It’s comparable to dousing an unexpecting sleeper with freezing water. Effective, but cruel and rather rude. How can one feel comfortable in class when the threat of an impromptu ice bucket challenge is ever present?
I wouldn’t have been nearly as shocked if this had been common practice for previous semesters. However, jumping from none to over half is horrendous and this new addition to an already stressful beginning of a semester caught me off guard. Did I mention I’m a senior?
This is my experience as an English major, who some have respectfully said is easier since all I do is spend my time in books anyway. Perhaps that point would make me feel better if the professors in the English department were the only ones contributing to the slow death of syllabus week.
Countless other students, ranging from biology, political science and even engineering majors have shared the same shocking revelation.
Is this something we should now be prepared for? Coming to class on the first day with everything ready, even if you are not sure if you will be staying. Furthermore, if you are not in the class yet, prepare for the class just in case a seat opens up
For those who want to write me off as lazy and unprepared, hear me out. I read the syllabus as soon as they hit Howdy and bought my textbooks well in advance. The problem is students who switch into the class a day late, or even worse, the last day of add/drop week, don’t have the chance. These students come into the class expecting the teacher to still be going over class expectations and major assignments to be met with in-class assignments on books they haven’t yet ordered on Amazon or picked up from the ridiculously overpriced school bookstore. How is this fair to them?
Is the practice of introducing your assignments straight out the door, or rather in the door, another method educators are using to prepare you for the real world? With the implications that college is “easy,” and once you’re an adult all training bars are removed from the metaphorical tricycle of college?
However, this wouldn’t even make sense considering when you start a “real” job, you are required to go through a training period. No one throws a new employee straight into his responsibilities expecting them to know how to build a rocketship or brew the perfect cup of coffee.
Given that students are using their break to travel, work or rest from the strenuous prior semesters, we are going to have trouble diving into a new routine. Syllabus week, which was once the time to set up your calendar and create agendas has now been abandoned.
So next time your professor assigns you work the first week of class, stop and think to yourself, “Isn’t syllabus week labeled ‘syllabus week’ for a reason?”
Saanya Troutman is an English senior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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