An Ode to Shopping Week

Category Student Voices


Portrait of Claire
Claire Class of '21 Alumni
Authored on July 10, 2020


While shopping week won’t look the same this semester because of online classes, the announcement got me thinking about how much I normally love shopping week.

“Shopping week” refers to the first week or so of classes on Harvard’s campus. Because our course registration deadline isn’t until a bit after the first week of school, you have a lot of freedom to try out different classes, or “shop” around before you have to commit.

One of the things I love most about shopping week is how much flexibility it gives you. Without having to pick out an unchangeable schedule before I’ve seen any of my courses, I can make a list of classes I want to go to that week and eliminate them or make decisions based on the first lecture or two. That’s been totally invaluable as I work to fill my course load with classes I’m genuinely interested in, and it also makes picking out classes ahead of time a lot less stressful.

Me on the First Day of School Last Year

I also love that shopping week means you can just drop in on a class that you hear about last minute – or go with a friend. While there have definitely been classes I’ve shopped with someone else that I decided definitely weren’t for me, there’ve also been quite a few I ended up taking that I didn’t know about when the week started. 

Of course, you may be thinking, if you’re going to, say 4 more classes than you’re actually going to end up taking, doesn’t that make the week stressful? And while yes, it may add a little chaos to the first week of classes, I don’t usually find it overwhelming. Because so many students are doing the same thing, lectures aren’t usually too intense and professors will sometimes end a little early to give you a break. Overall, while there’s definitely a lot going on that week, it’s something that I’m always so grateful exists.

I’m for sure going to miss not having traditional shopping week this year, so I’m glad that not only can it be immortalized in this post, but also that you can take advantage of it for me in the future.


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Claire Class of '21 Alumni

Portrait of Claire