By Emily Ludeman
Senior Academic Advisor, APUS
Every individual in higher education desires to grow. In one form or another, we all seek to better the future for ourselves or the people around us.
The overarching theme for university students, teachers and staff is to prepare for success. No matter the context, we’re all working toward a goal and choosing a degree or certificate program is a step in the right direction. This is where archived academic syllabi are useful.
Syllabi samples are an often overlooked resource that can help you plan ahead for a more successful university experience. Students at every level can benefit from reviewing archived syllabi. They will help you prepare to successfully navigate the excitement and challenges that each new course brings.
Where to Find Archived Class Syllabi
Current and prospective students have access to syllabus samples through the university’s catalogs. The “Academics” menu on the AMU or APU homepage displays the current graduate and undergraduate catalogs listed under the “Resources” submenu.
From each catalog, you can review all the academic programs the university offers. Each degree or certificate is a hyperlink to another page, so you can read the program objectives and see specific course requirements.
The individual course hyperlinks guide you to the course’s description, availability and course materials information. An archived syllabus is also there for your review in the course materials section.
In addition, there is an “Academic Plan & Forms” menu in the ecampus with links to both university catalogs and the academic calendar. The academic calendar includes a Schedule of Classes link that lets you search for syllabus samples by clicking on other links.
Use Your Syllabi to Plan for Concurrent Courses
Maintaining consistent progress is important; pursuing one to two courses at a time is generally the recommended pace. Your interests and schedule will help dictate what courses to pair together, but syllabus samples are an excellent planning resource as well.
Determining what topics and types of assignments are expected each week will help you register for concurrent courses in a way that you’re comfortable with. Course structure and demands should be factored in, along with your personal schedule. You don’t want to be writing two research papers the same week you’re moving into a new home.
Managing Class Expectations
The courses required for your program will cover new information. Instead of finding out what you’ll be studying when the course is live, check out the archived syllabus to see the weekly reading assignments and how your final grade will be determined.
Note that the syllabus provides much more information than just the course description. You might know what kind of career you can work toward with a B.S. in environmental science, but do you know what to expect from the 16-week statistics course required in the core curriculum?
The more you know about a course, the better you can prepare for its demands. It’s important to understand what to expect prior to registration, so you’re not overloading yourself. It’s great to make progress, but not at the cost of your GPA.
Syllabi Are Guidelines, Not Guarantees
It is important to keep in mind that archived syllabi are only samples. The syllabus in the actual course for which you’ve registered could be different, based on the instructor or content changes made in the last six months. Be sure to thoroughly review the current syllabus in the first week of the course and communicate any concerns to your instructor.
When to Look for Class Syllabi
Syllabus samples are primarily a tool to help with registration planning one to six months in advance of the course’s start date. They are also great to have if you are considering a change in program enrollment.
Within the business administration program, for example, you can compare individual syllabi for the data analytics concentration versus the business analysis concentration. Knowing what to expect from the courses within each option will help you determine which concentration best aligns with your goals.
Contact an Academic Advisor if You Have Further Questions
For additional information about a class syllabus, don’t hesitate to contact your academic advisor for further discussion. Your advisor can provide a different perspective and university insight. He or she can also make sure your schedule fits well within your personal, professional and academic demands.
Contact your academic advisor anytime throughout your academic program. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 877-755-2787. You can even chat with us live. We are available Monday — Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET and look forward to hearing from you!
About the Author
Emily Ludeman has worked in the Academic Advising Department at APUS since 2010. Prior to APUS, Emily was an advisor within the Residential and Commuter Life Office at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. She has a bachelor’s degree in political science and leadership from Longwood and is currently in the public administration master’s program here at APU.