tying the knot

a freshman’s guide to shopping period

Freshman Friends, this semester will end in earning our first college credit (AP scores and previous college classes aside)! An established college G.P.A is nothing to sneeze at, especially because grades are cumulative. But how do we get there? Shopping season is in full swing as students take to the classrooms for the first time in the fall semester. Classes officially started Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 and won’t be wrapped up until December 12th.

What? Did I hear 15 weeks of commitment? This can be scary for some students, so what should you do before tying the academic knot with your fall semester classes?

Shop til ya’ drop!

Shopping classes is a great way to know what the class is like, how the professor teaches, and the major assignments involved. It’s also a good idea to seek advice from students who previously took the course so you know exactly what’s in store.

Shopping is defined so many different ways. For instance, some students are attending nine classes right now, while some students are reading course descriptions online, still others are just kind of winging it. There’s no right or wrong way to do shopping, so try different things. Read the reviews, ask questions, do the readings, and check out anything that might strike your fancy. What’s the worst that could happen?

However, not everyone makes use of the full shopping period; opinions on it vary from person to person.

It’s easy to dislike shopping period because you have to keep up with all of the work for the classes you’re shopping. If you’re shopping seven courses, then ideally you’d want to complete the required work in all of the classes, which can be very stressful and time consuming. It ends up being a waste of time for the class that you end up dropping—all that good, hard work for nothing— or a mental-marathon in catching up on work in a class you want to take but that you discovered a week into the semester.

At this point, most students should have an idea of what classes they want to take. If you’re still undecided, meet with your advisors, prospective professors, or other students to help speed up your decision-making process.

This first semester sets the tone for the rest of the school year—the rest of your academic career, really. It’s so easy to get consumed by activities on campus, but you chose Brown for a reason.

Organizations, Frats/Sororities, parties and everything else are all nice, but none of them scream “DEGREE” through their speakers. Classes, sections, labs, and academic meetings talk the language of a college kid who is planning for graduation the first day of freshman year.

Of course, we’re all about our books—or else we wouldn’t be here—but it’s so easy to get distracted on a college campus.

There are events every night. And if there’s free food, that’s almost a guarantee that people will show up. Enjoying your four years spent at Brown is obviously a part of the overall college experience, but don’t spread yourself so thinly with so many commitments that you don’t have time to focus on the learning you came here to do.

With the last week of the shopping period winding down, try to compile a plan for studying and completing the homework for your solidified class schedule. It’s easy to do, and it’ll pay off when you’re able to get experience from shopping a high number of classes.

Brown University is probably nothing like your high school. And honestly, that’s probably for the best; we all matriculated here expecting for the standard to be set at a higher level than the institution we left. Straight A’s in high school doesn’t carry much weight anymore. Don’t try or feel the pressure to be perfect because you were a stud in high school. At the end of the day, undergrads can still graduate without straight As. Relax and breathe. Take shopping period seriously, but remember that it’s okay to be uncertain. It’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do with your time here. It’s okay not to know who you want to be. That’s what shopping period is for: trying on different versions of yourself.

Whatever your strategy is, just know that the last day to add/drop classes free of charge is Tuesday, September 20th at 5pm. At this time, the website will shut down for about an hour. After relaunching, all adds/drops will require an instructor override and a $15 late fee per course. If you’re okay with late fees, then your deadline is October 4th.

Happy Shopping!