On the first day of classes, most of my teachers bombard student with the syllabus, due dates, grading scales, and exam schedules. They tend to emphasize what students should be doing in that class to receive the grade they want, often indirectly causing stress with the excessive amount of information. But, in my biology course this fall, our syllabus day was a little less stressful. While our teacher did explain the course structure, he also emphasized some key points that I think every college student should hear, too.
1. I want to get to know you as a person, not just a student.
He doesn't just care about us getting a good grade and passing his class, but he actually cares about us as people, too. As our first assignment, he had us fill out a notecard with information about us, like our name, majors, where we're from, what we like to listen to, our favorite food, and more. It's nice to know that he wants to connect with his students rather than just lecturing to them every class.
2. Your mental health is legitimate.
I remember him specifically pausing for a second before looking out at all of us and saying, "A lot of people will dismiss your feelings. But they are real. They are valid. And you shouldn't ignore them." This is something that every college student needs to hear, and to hear it from a professor was so amazing. He refuses to let his course get in the way of his students' mental well-being, and every professor should let their students know that that's their first priority, too.
3. You can stop in my office anytime, for any reason.
Going off of the first point, my professor advised any students to come to his office at any time, for any reason at all. In fact, he told us that he always kept chocolate in his office, and if we ever needed a study break, we could just stop by to get some candy, even if we didn't have a question to ask.
4. There are no stupid questions, and I won't ever make you feel like there are.
This one is SO important! Often times, students may be left confused about a topic discussed in class just because they are afraid to ask for help. My professor emphasized to us, though, that there is no such thing as a stupid question, and even if he has said the answer to it 50 times, he will answer every question respectfully, without making any student feel bad for asking it.
5. The exams will be an accurate reflection of your knowledge.
He made sure to tell us that his exams are not meant to trick us, but instead to accurately assess our knowledge of the material. While he still expects us to work and study hard, and his exams are set up to be difficult, they are not meant to trick us, which I think is an appropriate and fair way for teachers to assess their students.
These are just some of the things that I think every student needs to hear from their professors. It helps to know that they will do their best to help you and understand some of your struggles, and in the long run, it's so helpful to students' success.