Campus & Community

Finding the classes that fit

4 min read

During the College tradition of Shopping Week, students can try out courses before committing

The start of the semester can be harrying. There’s moving in, settling in, and then, classes. What to take? What schedule works best? Is this class right?

That’s why, at the beginning of each semester, there’s Shopping Week, when students can sample a course before officially registering.

By getting a glimpse into a class, students understand what’s expected of them, and are better equipped to plan their semesters and balance their course load accordingly.

It’s helped Hugh Mayo ’18 so far.

The St. Paul, Minn., native said he’s changed his concentration — from decided to undecided. But he has until November to figure it out.

“In another school, I would’ve already registered for classes under [my former] concentration; Shopping Week has helped the transition a bit,” he said.

“It’s an extraordinarily beneficial opportunity to attend as many lectures as I want by as many professors as I want,” said Samuel Shapiro ’18, waiting outside Julie A. Buckler’s “Human 54: The Urban Imagination” just a few minutes before class started.

Like Mayo, Shapiro is between concentrations. Shopping Week takes a lot of the pressure off. “I can test out a bunch of these classes even if I’m not planning on taking them to understand what these concentrations will be like.”

Students flood out of a Harvard Hall classroom during Shopping Week, a window at the start of each semester when students can try out courses before formally registering. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism James Wood speaks about the syllabus for his class “Consciousness in Fiction.” Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Students crowd into Wood’s classroom to hear his introduction. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Ayesha Mangaldas ’17 (left) auditions for Remo Airaldi’s class “Acting Shakespeare,” part of Harvard’s new Theater, Dance, and Media concentration. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Eli Kresta ’16 auditions for Remo Airaldi (left) inside Farkas Hall. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Sam Hagen ’18 (right), a Theater, Dance, and Media concentrator, awaits his audition for Remo Airaldi’s class. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Jonathan Losos, the Monique and Philip Lehner Professor for the Study of Latin America and curator in herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, delivers an animated lecture on “Biology of Mammals: Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Morgan Breitmeyer ’17 (left) poses a question in “Linear Algebra and Applications,” taught by Professor of Mathematics Michael Hopkins. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Michael Hopkins writes a math problem on a chalkboard. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Jamaica Kincaid teaches “African-American Literature from the Beginnings to the Harlem Renaissance” inside the Barker Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Ryan McKittrick teaches Introduction to Dramaturgy (Adaptation and A.R.T. 2015-16 Season), a class he co-teaches with Diane Paulus, in the Loeb Drama Center. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Angela Yang ’18 (left) attends “Intermediate Microeconomics: Advanced,” taught by Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics Edward Glaeser. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Edward Glaeser moves through the room during his seminar. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
A student ponders Edward Glaeser’s lecture inside Jefferson Hall. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Julie A. Buckler teaches “The Urban Imagination” in Emerson Hall. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
An inside view of Kang-Kuen Ni’s classroom inside Harvard’s Mallinckrodt Building. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Mary-Grace Reeves ’16 (from left) and first-year Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students Wedding Xu and Xiao Yang get help from Kang-Kuen Ni during his chemistry course. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Amit Levi, a fellow at the Center for Astrophysics, is enrolled in Kang-Kuen Ni’s chemistry course. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer