Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the September 3 flipbook.
Class syllabi provide crucial information for students: the structure of classes, breakdown of the curriculum and, perhaps most importantly, textbooks and required materials.
Currently, UT’s deadline for professors to post class information is the first day of classes. Professors have until the seventh class day to upload course syllabi and updated curricula vitaes to the Access Syllabi and CVs system. However, this is not a place students commonly access, and waiting to post materials until the first day or later forces students to retroactively get class information after courses have already started.
UT should create a syllabi release day before the first day of classes where all professors send their course information to students or upload their syllabi on Canvas.
UT’s current process of posting class syllabi is very disorganized. Every class gives the information at different times, making it difficult for students to feel comfortable and prepared on their first day of class.
Daphnee-Anne Grignon, communication and leadership junior, did not expect to get a syllabus at 1 a.m. the morning of the first day of classes, leaving her rushing to get her textbook.
“If you don’t get the information to your students ASAP, then they’re just scrambling to find textbooks,” Grignon said.
Giving the class information out early makes it easier to transition into content directly instead of spending a week struggling to get students on the same page regarding materials. It will make it easier to be evenly prepared through classes.
“That would also help in terms of getting to content faster. … It would relieve the stress a lot, because it would … have all the information and supplies you need faster,” Grignon said.
Assistant teaching professor, Jennifer Jones Barbour, said that she would be open to the idea of having an earlier syllabus release day, and it is especially important regarding virtual classes.
“I think some students are curious and they want to get situated before the first day of classes, and the syllabus can help them do that,” Barbour said. “Posting it early gives students time to get situated, if you don’t post it early, then you have to get affordances for learning what needs to happen.”
She mentioned that she tries to get her syllabi out before classes start, and that it can be more difficult for certain classes to release it earlier.
Kathleen Sakura Harrison, communications manager for the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said UT has these deadlines to allow for flexibility with faculty.
“Faculty are welcome to provide their syllabus sooner, and many do. Having the first day and seventh day as deadlines, however, allows for some flexibility should additional information and critical updates be needed,” Harrison said. “Students are always welcome to reach out to their instructors before classes begin should they have any questions or concerns about their class.”
Although flexibility for faculty is important, support for students is as well. To ensure students can be the most successful in class, it is important to make sure they have the materials needed for that class ahead of time. And to get those materials, students need time and information.
The beginning of class is one of the most stressful times of the year: People move in, try to join clubs, figure out a new environment and there are a number of other major life changes that are happening at the same time. Academic success is at the forefront of many people’s minds, and grades don’t wait until students are comfortable.
Ramachandran is a communication and leadership and sociology sophomore from Austin, Texas.