The high-tech way Yalies choose classes

Gone are the days of stalking your friends and acquaintances on Instagram. At Yale, there’s a far more enriching website for you to secretly creep on the lives of those around you—a place that helps you improve your own life, too: CourseTable.

Developed back in 2012 by two Yalies, and currently maintained by the Yale Computer Society, CourseTable is the all-in-one place where students “shop” for courses at the start of each semester—that is, where we sample a bunch of courses and select the four-to-five we’ll ultimately take. CourseTable is different from your standard course catalog because, like a Yelp for your schedule, it incorporates experiences of students who have taken a given course in the past. Next to each class are overall ratings, professor ratings, and workload ratings—which are especially useful in planning out semesters where you’ll be particularly busy. You can also see the expected course size to help you strike a balance between seminars and larger lectures.

Want to know what you can expect to learn, or how smoothly each class’s discussion went, or in general, whether or not people would recommend that you take the course? If you click a course, you can read more descriptive reviews; Yale students of years’ past have got your back.

My favorite feature… :) 

But—and I’m probably exposing myself quite a bit here—my favorite feature of CourseTable is its ability to sync with Facebook. That means you can see the many courses your friends are considering, too. In my defense, it’s all practical! I like to know if I can expect a friend in one of my classes. And, I’ve learned about a lot of really interesting courses just by seeing what other people are interested in: Social Psychology; Race, Politics, and the Law; Sickness and Health in African American History—these are all classes that I learned about while stalking my friends (or, as I like to say, respecting their exquisite tastes). 

CourseTable lets you bookmark the classes you’re interested in, and afterwards, it shows you see a weekly calendar about your proposed schedule. I’ve definitely had semesters where I’ve been a bit overzealous. Seeing a day jam-packed with classes back-to-back—and even overlapping with each other—can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Eventually, though, this all works out, and every semester, I can rest easy knowing that I made my course selections with the maximum amount of information available.

My CourseTable Spring 2020 worksheet… I went a bit crazy that semester.  

I think CourseTable says a lot about Yale’s approach to academics: our school has a lot of really cool classes, and opportunities in general, and us students are given a lot of flexibility when we choose what to pursue. True to character, we like to make the most of what’s presented to us. CourseTable is a tool specifically designed to help us do just that.