Class Shopping. What?

Class shopping.

What’s that?

A unique academic system here at Harvard where students can visit any classes before the semester start. Just sit in to see what and how the professors are teaching.

 Like window-shopping.

You go into the store (or here, a classes) and see what it offers. You can shop as many classes as you like. Leave the class at any time. Try different classes as much as you want or as much as your body can handle, without the commitment of registration. The shopping spree last for about a week, depending on the school.

Hopefully, you can leave with classes you are satisfied with.

Here is how I shop for my classes

School of Education

1st semester

1. Look up the schedule of the shopping week. Some classes run at the same time, but fortunately, if I miss certain class, there is a repeat shopping in the next session.

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2. Preparation is key. I armed myself with comfortable shoes and clothes. If you got lots of energy, then each day will feel like an exciting shopping marathon. If you are like me, jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, be strategic. It’s helpful to read up on the classes beforehand. Most importantly, I try to keep heart open to classes I didn’t consider. Some of the most impactful and worthwhile classes were class outside of my original plan.

The Duck Class – T550 Designing Learning through Creating

students made their lego duck during the 1-hour shopping session



3. Take notes and be brave to raise those hands. Some classes need me to attend the class shopping in order to register, while few other already start assigning students with assignments. Also, I asked some questions. It better to experience surprises, than shocks and to find out halfway that my potential course has 3 exams, 5 papers and 10 pop quizzes (plus weekly reflections).

None of my class I chose was that crazy because I knew I would die if I take them.


My experiences:

Laptop: check. Schedule: Check. Note: Check.

It was a lot to balance. I only did digging into some classes. couldn’t look into all of them. I didn’t beat myself up if I miss certain classes and I consulted with my new friends what they are taking or for classes I missed. It was good to hear what other people were taking. I also ate my lunch, which I saw that some students chose to skip them, for the lack of time. I needed my fuel. Overall, I was thankful that there was a class shopping system because it was a low-commitment and a gentle introduction into the impressive and daunting classes here.

Some of the classes I shop

With Prof. Howard Gardner


Entrepreneur leadership? I forgot the name. If you remember this, let me know in the comment.


With Prof C. Nelson & Prof. Nadine Gaab – H126 Typical and atypical neurodevelopment

I took this course~



To end the week of class shopping, the school lavished with ice cream~ at Radcliffe Yard (the school social landmark)



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