The Syllabus for Yourself

I’m much more attuned to the academic year than the calendar year. Instead of New Years’ resolutions, I set all my intentions in September. I list out personal development goals and imagine where I want to be in 15 weeks (the average length of a fall semester college course). Are you that way, too? As August rolls into September in just over 15 days, do you feel as excited as I do to start something new?

It’s almost as if I’m building my fall syllabus for myself. If your September marked the beginning of a course—with learning outcomes and projects delivered by December—what would you put in your weekly calendar? And if this imaginary class were to meet on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday for just 2 hours, what content would you want to impart to yourself and for what reason?

As a course designer for Penn State, I layout a fresh syllabus template with 15 weeks. Every few weeks, students will have reached key skills and will have completed significant writing projects. You could do this, too! We both could! What if we thought about ourselves like this, in semesters, too?

We could create a document with 15 rows representing 15 weeks. In those weeks, let’s think about what we might read that week, how we might increase physical activity, what we might create, and what friendships we want to build.

You’re a student in your own life. You’re setting goals, working hard, and wanting to graduate on to harder and more complex courses each new semester. And by the end, what project will you hand in?

I pray you have the best new academic year ever!

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