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As the so-called "shopping period" for class draws to a close, I feel fortunate that I was able to finally get my schedule in order. But I also feel like I am struggling to catch my breath. Shopping period (or add/drop period) -- which is designed to allow students to experiment with their courses freely and to pick them up or abandon them as they choose – seemed more like “chasing period” to me.

First off, if you have decided to try out another class, this class has probably already moved forward with its syllabus. Joining a new class almost automatically implies being in a position of disadvantage compared to other students—which seems like a punishment for shopping around, rather than an encouragement of exploration. How are we supposed to find out if we enjoy a class if we’re struggling to keep up with it from the start?

Secondly, finding and securing class spots is a complete hassle. By the time add-drop period begins, many classes (in particular those in the Visual Arts, Creative Writing, and large introductory classes) have already filled up. A solution to this is to email the professor of the class you are interested in to try to secure a spot, but often the course’s waiting list also serves as an obstacle. This becomes a more significant problem as the two-week period goes on.

Although I’m not sure how we could fix these problems entirely, a good starting point would be to have course material set aside for shopping period that students would not be tested on. Students who were enrolled in the course from the beginning would become familiar with this material (which could be useful for the course overall), but others who chose to add the course at a later time would not be severely disadvantaged. Granted, finding such specific information for every class would be nearly impossible. But a discussion of how to improve this system needs to begin. To me, it’s important that the University considers its consumers a bit more when they advertise our ability to shop for classes.

Prianka Misra is a sophomore from Castro Valley, Calif. She can be reached at

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