Syllabus bank would improve students’ academic life
As the spring semester progresses and students settle into a routine, emails about mandatory academic advisement meetings roll in. Class registration waits for no one — despite the summer break in between semesters, students’ registration times and dates will soon be released and thus begins the arduous process of schedule building.

It’s a semesterly saga — mixing and matching class, lab and discussion sections, trying to avoid the dreaded Monday 8 a.m. and, if the stars align, having no class on Fridays. Students are often willing to compromise on classes, choosing general education courses and elective requirements that best fit their busy schedules, but as they become more serious about their plans, post graduation, they inevitably want to take the classes that best fit their interests and career goals.

To combat this, USC should offer a comprehensive, school-wide syllabus bank where students can look up syllabuses for professors or classes they’re considering taking in the future. Not only will it help students make smarter decisions about the weight of their course load, but it can also help them pick courses or instructors more relevant to industries that they’re interested in learning more about. USC prides itself on preparing students for careers and paves the way with job and internship opportunities early, so why not make it easier for students to connect with and learn from professors in their field of choice and have more knowledge when choosing their elective and major requirements?

The element of surprise when starting a new semester is beneficial for no one. While it’s unrealistic to think that every single class will be of utmost interest to students, the mountain of classwork and projects is much more bearable when students are intellectually engaged. The same is true for professors — to teach a class full of students that want to be there and are eager to learn is significantly more satisfying than trying to wake up a sleepy, half-empty lecture hall.

USG senators Ben Rosenthal, Emily Johnson and Randi Anderson are currently surveying undergraduate students about whether they think a syllabus bank would be beneficial. So far, an overwhelming consensus agrees that having a syllabus bank will help better inform them when selecting classes and would help them plan their own academic and personal calendars.

USG senators are hoping to get their syllabus survey results approved by the Academic Senate, and then partner with IT Services to begin building the database. While USC has yet to start the process of creating a digitized, open-access syllabus bank, other universities have found success building them.

In 2018, Duke University’s undergraduate student government has created a cloud-based syllabus bank, organized into folders by class subject. Accessible to current faculty members and students, it’s been a collaborative effort by the students to send in the past semester’s syllabuses and slowly grow the collection.

Our USG is proposing that professors themselves send in syllabuses from the past semester, so students will have an accurate idea of what they’re getting themselves into, and can plan accordingly. Rosenthal aims to implement the bank as soon as possible, so that during upcoming registration students will have access to important dates ahead of time.

It will take time to compile a thorough archive of recent course offerings, but the collaboration of faculty, staff and students on this project is fully worth the time spent for all parties involved. A digital syllabus bank will help USC students find better-fitting classes, create more manageable schedules, improve student attendance and only further stimulate and improve academic performance.

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