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Wake Forest University’s academic coaches work with students to keep them organized.

Wake Forest University

At Wake Forest University’s Center for Learning, Access and Student Success (CLASS), academic coaches help students get organized by translating syllabus deadlines into a comprehensive spreadsheet.

The problem: CLASS staff realized that many students have difficulty managing deadlines for multiple classes, shares Jean Anne Semke, one of the coaches.

“Wake Forest students have a plethora of on-campus events and activities to choose from, along with demanding coursework. Keeping up with all the time demands can be a challenge,” Semke explains.

To give students the tools to work “smarter and not harder,” CLASS introduced the Comprehensive Syllabus to make students more proactive time managers.

The solution: Each semester, the center works with students to create what coaches call a Comprehensive Syllabus.

A Comprehensive Syllabus is a personalized spreadsheet that organizes assignments and assessments by class and due dates.

Each column designates a particular class, and below, organized by row, are the weeks of the semester. Students work through each syllabus to pull out every piece of homework or test and place it in the corresponding cell.

The office creates a new template with updated weeks each term, and students can receive help in filling out the document prior to the start of the semester from the academic coaches. CLASS academic coaches recommend students look at the spreadsheet weekly and stay alert of events in the next two to three weeks.

The impact: Comprehensive Syllabus helps students stay on top of their deadlines, with the visual tool making it easier to prioritize specific assignments, including any makeup work, and use informed decision-making.

Besides helping with class organization, the exercise encourages students to read their syllabus and learn course expectations.

“Professors share a great deal of valuable information in their syllabi, and yet they are often unread by students,” Semke says. “The mere exercise of creating a Comprehensive Syllabus gives the student the opportunity to learn from their professor.”

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