Shopping… Yale Style

I’m not going to lie, I like shopping. Send me into a bookstore and I could browse for hours. Give me Yale’s two-week shopping period and I am faced with the same glorious problem - there’s just so many classes to choose from!

I like to plan ahead. This past semester, I successfully managed to preempt midterms clashing with a cappella performances. Trust me, it’s incredibly helpful to be able to sit down with the syllabi before you commit to having four midterms on the same day!

For the Yalie who knows what they want, shopping period can be an amazing opportunity! I knew that this semester I was going to take English 130: Epic in the European Literary Tradition. There were four sections of this seminar with four different professors. I shopped every single section - sat in them each, and realized that even though the title of the class was the same, I could have four different experiences. The seminars each attracted different students for different reasons - not everyone has the motivation for a 9:25 AM class, even at Yale! The professor I chose was a Brit (like me!) and her own personal preferences meant that we got to study Jane Austen for a week or two. The best thing about this section was the experience I had sitting in class on the first day of shopping period. Naturally, I wanted to be there first to scope out the best seat, and every student who walked in was someone I already knew, through a cappella, my residential college or mutual friends. The small intimate nature of our seminar meant that I got to spend a semester discussing “Ulysses” and Homer with some of my closest friends. For credit.

But, for the Yalies that aren’t so sure, shopping period is an amazing chance to explore things you would never have the chance to otherwise. I didn’t have space in my semester for a Women’s Studies class this semester, but I really wanted the opportunity to hear from one of their professors and engage in that kind of discussion. I had no intention of continuing it for the semester, but thanks to shopping period, I was able to go to a few classes, engage in the discussion, but then return to my pre-planned, color-coded schedule.

It sounds great, right? This is how it works.

In July, the online Blue Book (our nickname for the course catalog) goes live, and will ultimately crash moments later as Yalies across the globe begin searching for classes, drawing up intricate color-coded excel spreadsheets of classes and beginning the two month long preparation for the two week excursion. Shopping lists are shared amongst friends, just in case you didn’t get a chance to read the description of all 2000 courses in the book! When school begins, so does the real fun… two weeks of complete academic freedom. No expectations, no commitment, just learning for the sake of learning. Then you commit, and it’s glorious. Welcome to a semester that you designed and you chose. No need for a money-back guarantee.