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1.2: Things to Know

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    What is a Syllabus?

    The syllabus is a contract between you and your instructor. Yes, a contract. By reading the syllabus and not withdrawing from a class, you are entering into a contract with your instructor and the university. This sounds scary, but it isn’t, just so long as you READ THE SYLLABUS. The syllabus describes required materials, course goals, expectations, mandatory attendance policies, how you will be graded, and so on. Generally, when a question comes up about the course, you can find it on the syllabus.

    How do I Communicate with my Professors?


    Part of “doing college” means understanding that how you communicate to others impacts how he or she perceives your maturity and/or professionalism. That said, most instructors do not mind receiving and responding to emails but often mind very much if those emails do not include a formal address/sign off, your full name, and your class and section number. Please use the example below as a reference when crafting your emails.

    Example Email

    Hello Instructor/Professor/Dr. [be sure to choose the appropriate title],

    This is Sally Sue from your ENG 101 Section 12 class. After rereading the syllabus, I still do not understand XXX. Can we please meet to discuss it?

    Thank you for your time.


    Sally Sue

    Office Hours

    Another thing that may be new to some of you is the opportunity to work and talk one-on-one with your professor. It is definitely one of the perks of the college environment. Instructors are required to set aside time to be available to students in their offices. In general, it is always good to introduce yourself to your professor because introductions during office hours are a great way to stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, attending office hours can help answer questions concerning difficult assignments or concepts. Check the syllabus to make sure you’re visiting during scheduled office hours, unless you have scheduled an appointment with the instructor via email or Starfish.

    “1.2 Things to Know” has been edited by Angela Spires and is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 / A derivative from the original work by Melanie Gagich.

    This page titled 1.2: Things to Know is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Angela Spires, Brendan Shapiro, Geoffrey Kenmuir, Kimberly Kohl, and Linda Gannon via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.