An important part of your freshman year is learning that some things you thought about college were wrong. Your roommate may not become your best buddy, and those parties may not be as fun as they looked on TV (or maybe they were — you can’t remember). And if you think you know what classes you’ll be taking, shopping period begs to differ.
Shopping period is basically Brown’s way of ensuring that you really love all your classes (unless you need to take orgo, in which case… have fun!). For the next two weeks, you can add and drop courses at your leisure and sit in on as many classes as you’d like. There are so many classes to choose from that shopping period can seem pretty daunting, but here are some tips to help you make the most of it.
Do research. The night before classes start, it’s in your best interest to double check the courses you want to take. Classes are known to change times, rooms, and even professors with no warning, so research will make sure you end up in the right places.
Ignore course caps. Professors are rarely strict about capping their classes, especially if you demonstrate interest and/or prior experience. Don’t let a “0 seats remaining” on Banner deter you from going to a course that truly interests you. The majority of the time, it will work out in your favor.
Listen to upperclassmen (including us. That’s a given). Everyone will tell you to shop courses in areas you’ve never even heard of before or to attend a class you never thought you’d find interesting. They’re right — that random class you add onto your schedule at the last minute might bore you to tears, but it might also lead you towards choosing a concentration. If you hate the class, you never have to go back. You literally have nothing to lose.
Don’t worry about conflicts. Many times, professors will end their first class early because they know students might want to shop another class in the same time slot. Even if they don’t, most won’t get offended if you leave early (with one caveat — sit by the door if you’re planning on ducking out halfway through to create fewer distractions).
Stay organized. Some classes will already give you assignments. Keep track of what you’re registered for and what your grade options are. You don’t want to find out in November that you never registered for the class you’ve been slaving over and that you forgot to make your most difficult course S/NC.
Good luck shopping, and have fun with it! And remember: if there are no seats left in a classroom, you can always climb in through the window.