The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Syllabus (Sylly) Week Experience

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A student holds a pen and piece of paper in a class at the University of Massachusetts

Welcome, to the first week of classes at the University of Massachusetts, or as we call it — syllabus week, or sylly week for short! The first week is called syllabus week because it’s not as academically rigorous as the rest of the semester, since most of the time is spent on introductions and passing out of syllabuses.

Preparing and Getting to Classes

I have an awful sense of direction and, with campus being so big, I was a bit worried about finding my classes the first week. To prepare, I printed out a picture of the campus map, and circled where all of my classes were. I also walked to most of my classes with friends I knew had the same classes as me. If all else fails, there’s always Google Maps, which I did have to use to find my math class the second day. I always gave myself an extra 10ish minutes to get to classes the first week in case I got lost (I almost did one day!) 

I brought my laptop to classes, a five subject notebook, a folder for loose papers, my planner, pens, and pencils. On the syllabus, or in class, you will most likely be told what other materials you’ll need; for example an Iclicker or calculator. If you already know your class needs an iclicker before arriving I strongly suggest ordering way ahead of time — as I ordered mine late August from the campus store and it didn’t arrive 'til the beginning of my second week! 


As a freshman, I'm taking a lot of introductory 100 courses and gen eds. This means big lecture-style classes ranging from around 50 to 250 people. Coming from a small high school with average class sizes of 25, this was quite intimidating. Since taking attendance in such large classes can be very difficult, most of my classes do not take attendance. That makes showing up to class a personal responsibility. 

My professors specified which platforms they used for their work as not all professors use the same. For example, I had to purchase a WileyPlus subscription for my Calc 127 class to do my homework assignments. Two other popular platforms used by my classes were Moodle and Blackboard Learn. I suggest getting familiar with these platforms quite early as you’ll be using them a lot. 


The first week is all about new experiences. The experiences you get from attending university-sponsored events, as well as exploring on your own, provides you with a taste of the college experience and highlights UMass’ important values. College can be intimidating, and at times I felt super overwhelmed, but through attending different events I also made new friends and memories.

My final piece of advice to you is to live in the moment: absorb everything around you. College is a fresh start, make the most of it! 


Life at UMass
Transitioning to College

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