Editorial: Students need syllabuses before registration

JustSignHereOne of the most stressful parts of the semester is registering for classes.

Registering has several parts: first you meet with your adviser, or advisers if you’re in certain programs, then you must stalk Bearweb carefully to see what times and professors are available for the classes you need. Maybe you check out the reputation of your potential professors online at sites like ratemyprofessors.com.

Once you hammer out your perfect schedule and register, it should be smooth sailing from there, right?


Although brief descriptions are offered for classes prior to registration, students don’t have access to anything like a syllabus before the semester starts. There is nothing more frustrating than taking all this time to sift through the thousands of classes and sections of classes that Baylor offers only to get into class the first day and find out the class description you saw before you started class was severely misleading.

Instructors should post syllabuses for the sections and classes they’re teaching prior to the earliest registration date so that students know what they’re getting into before they commit. That way, once the first day rolls around, there are no incompatible expectations or surprise expenses.

Because every teacher is different, this means that even intro courses are going to be different from one another. A brief, one-size-fits-all-class description can’t possibly do any course justice.

Take a basic English class, for example. Some professors will focus more on writing and require lots of essays, while others will focus on reading and discussion. Depending on a student’s learning style, he or she could excel with one of these teaching styles and crash and burn with another. It would be greatly beneficial to students if some basic syllabus was offered with each course.

Futhermore, many courses at Baylor require outside activities that take up time that many students have already devoted to other things. Because many students already dedicate their out-of-class time to work, sports, volunteering, etc., it can be hard to rearrange schedules for last-minute class requirements. The best way to prepare students is to let them know ahead of time — before the start of the semester. That way, students can alter work schedules or avoid classes that require out-of-class commitments they can’t make. A syllabus for each course posted before the start of the semester will warn students before they commit and should contain the basic requirements.

It should also warn students of any expenses not covered in the list of required texts, art supplies, for example, which can be expensive. These expenses should not be sprung on students at the beginning of the semester — not after they’ve already taken out financial aid and may need to live on a tight budget.

Letting students know what they get into beforehand can only benefit students, professors and administrators. Fewer students will need to drop courses, having a good idea of the course requirements and costs upfront. Think about it, students: You won’t have to scramble to fill the necessary hours left by a dropped course.

So please, Baylor, reconsider your system of syllabuses.

Please offer students a detailed calendar and syllabus that tell us exactly what is required in the way of course materials, outside activities and class content before we commit to a class.

This will allow students to adequately prepare for the semester and not have to scramble at the last minute to figure out how to succeed in a course they weren’t equipped for.