Shop Before You Drop: Students should have time at the beginning of the school year to see if they like scheduled electives

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If you were to walk among the campuses of Brown or Harvard University during the first week of school, you would see students flitting in and out of a myriad of classes, sampling courses which are offered at the schools. While this may seem unconventional, this activity is known as a “shopping period” and is a common phenomenon among Ivy League institutions as well as few other universities across the country. 

A “shopping period” is a time period—usually between one and three weeks—where students can try out or “shop” for various offered courses prior to making a commitment to take the class for a semester or two. 

Brown University student Yvonne Wingard wrote in an opinion piece regarding her experience with Brown’s “shopping period”, an experience that she said she found helpful to her overall education at Brown.

“With so many amazing courses to choose from, shopping period is certainly an excellent way to browse classes without having to fully commit to them just yet, while keeping my options open for new courses I never even thought to consider,” Wingard said.

Due to schedule or calendar conflicts as well as the amount of time this period may cut into teaching time, our school could follow the model that universities who participate in this practice set in place: offering the “shopping period” for first-year students only. 

Since students dropping languages or other elective classes is a common occurrence at our school, especially for freshmen, this “shopping period” could offer students a chance to assess if they would like to take a course before signing up for it, as well as reduce the number of students who drop out of courses they do not end up wanting to complete for the whole semester or year. 

Personally, I’ve chosen electives that I ended up really enjoying and have stuck with them throughout my years at CHS, but not all students share the same positive experience as I do. In fact, several people I know were surprised during their freshman year because of the difficulty of a course or how much they disliked a certain elective class they chose.

However, counselors create most schedules over the summer prior to the start of school. In order for our counselors to continue making schedules over the summer, incoming freshmen would still need to choose classes to prior to entering CHS. By creating a “shopping period” for elective classes for these students, perhaps during SRT periods, they could try other classes and request modifications to their schedules based on their experience.

Though it is little unconventional, this practice would ensure more freshmen are cognizant of the classes they choose to take and are less likely to drop courses mid-quarter or mid-year. 

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Riya Chinni at rchinni@hilite.org. 

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