9 Use Your Course Outline to Prepare for the Semester

A Course Presentation (also called a syllabus or course outline) is prepared by your instructor, and is like a roadmap for your learning journey ahead. You will want to look at your course Moodle page before the course starts to see if it is available to you. If not, you will receive it on the first day of class. Sometimes, instructors will email them to you in advance.

The following video will help you to better understand how to read your syllabus and how to plan for the semester ahead. Click to watch the video and continue down this pathway. If you prefer reading to watching videos, scroll below the video to find a transcript. After watching the video, click the next section arrow to move ahead.


Video Transcript: Using Course Presentations to Create a Semester Schedule

Hello, in this video we are going to discuss how to use the course presentation, also called the course syllabus, to create a semester schedule.

First, let’s begin with some questions for you to consider: Have you ever forgotten to do a reading for class? Have you ever forgotten, until a few days before, that an assignment was due? Have you ever spent hours slaving away on an assignment worth 2% of your final grade, but in doing so, neglected a different assignment for a different class worth more much more than 2%? These are common questions and common phenomena for students, which take place throughout a semester.

There are three main reasons why students can struggle to keep up with course requirements (i.e. required readings, homework, assignments, and so on) during a semester up to 16 weeks in length.

First, students today are busy with multiple commitments, from classes, to part time jobs, to family. Second, students today try to “remember” important details in their head rather than writing down in an agenda. Third, for those students that do “write down” important details such as required readings, or assignments, they do so by using smartphone calendar apps, which never show everything that needs to get done, but simply what can fit on one small screen at a time.
It is therefore important to record the important details from the course presentation, in a central and easily accessible semester schedule. This semester schedule can then be used to record the details from other courses, as well as other commitments, so a student can see all of their commitments for the semester, in one central place.

Here are 5 STEPS to use your course presentations to create a semester schedule.
Step 1: First, determine how many weeks are in the current semester (i.e. a 4 months long semester will usually have 4 weeks per month, or 16 weeks total).

Step 2: Second, find or draft a grid table, with 7 columns, for each of the days of the week, and with 16 rows of each week of the semester. Label the days, Monday, Tuesday, etc., across the top of the table. Then label the 16 weeks, along the side of the table. At this point you can also add the specific dates for each week.

Step 3: Third, gather up all of your course presentations for that semester. You should have one for each course you are taking, which includes details about the weekly schedule, and assignment due dates and percentages. If you have a part time job, and know your schedule, as well as family commitments which have a regular schedule, gather up those schedules as well.

Step 4: Forth, work with only one course presentation at a time. Go through the course presentation looking for important details and commitments that take place in Week 1 of the semester. This could include required course readings, homework, assignments, etc. On your semester schedule table, find the day of the week these commitments need to be completed by. Write down the commitment details. Make sure to include the short hand name of the course, what you have to complete, and what it is worth if it is a graded assignment. Now do the same for Week 2 of the semester for this course presentation, then Week 3, Week 4, and so on for the remainder of the semester.

Step 5: Fifth, move to the next course presentation, and repeat Step 4, adding details of commitments one week at a time. Repeat these steps for every course, and course presentation, you are scheduled in for the semester. If you have a job and have a regular schedule, add those details to your semester schedule. If you do not have a regular job schedule, add the details you currently have, and then add new details as you receive them from your boss. Finally, if you have family commitments that are regularly scheduled, as an example, weekly family dinner, or even your mom’s birthday, add those details in to your semester schedule so you do not forget.

In summary, once you have completed these 5 steps using your course presentations to create a semester schedule, you will now have a central and easily accessible schedule that includes all of your commitments, in one place. By including details like the percentage values of homework, assignments, and tests, you can more easily decide which tasks are most important for you to concentrate your energy on during busy weeks. You will not have to go searching through piles of paper, or online through the course website, to remember what you have to get done for your courses. As well, being able to see, in one place, what your commitments are today, this week, and in the up coming weeks, can help you organize your time in the most efficient many possible.

We will now look at how to create an effective semester schedule that will allow you to better manage your time in university.


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Time Management for Busy Students Copyright © 2018 by Kwantlen Polytechnic University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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