(Class) Shopping

My mind is buzzing with excitement, exhaustion, and total desperation. It’s 5:00pm on Thursday, having just finished the whirlwind two days of class shopping period. I slumped in my advisor’s chair – I needed expert advice.

“What’s up?” he asks.

I jumped right in. “I have a whole list of classes I want to take and can’t imagine narrowing it down. I’ve never had so much freedom to frame my course load. Can I enroll in four courses and audit another five? Is that normal? I’ve never done this before. What do I do? How do I do this?”

At this point, I realized I’ve just ranted for a solid two minutes. I sighed, “I just wish I could take everything.”

He sat back in his chair and smiled. “Welcome to HGSE. You’ll fit right in.”

Shopping period is an utterly exhausting and exciting two days of discovering the course book. Before each term begins, HGSE sets aside two days for exploring the offerings of the semester. From 9am to 5:30pm, our days are filled with listening to professors pitch their classes to us in short lectures, and at the end we’re asked to narrow our courses of interest to a precious few. 

My advisor sensed my uneasiness in making the final decisions. He gave another smile, folded his arms, and asked me to remind myself what drew me to study at HGSE – not what drew me to come to the school, but what compelled me to study here.

To my amazement and relief, my fellow cohort members faced similar dilemmas about their class selection. Most surprisingly, we all selected completely different courses from each other. We were each asking ourselves the same question, for which we had varied answers: what is my purpose for studying here? 

Even within cohorts, everyone comes to HGSE with a different objective. Our common thread is an interest in education-related issues (and, seemingly, a desire to take more than a reasonable amount of courses), but we each have a different purpose and path to take. Shopping week reminds us that the opportunities for study here are endless; but rather than overwhelm us, it reminds us that here we have the incredible ability to chart our own course, and this was our first step in our journey.

What will be your purpose at HGSE?

Members of the MBE ’17 cohort on our first day of classes outside Gutman Library, starting our grad school journeys together

Arpi Youssoufian is a masters candidate in the Mind, Brain, and Education program. A biologist by training, she is fascinated by the classic nature-nurture debate in the context of learning development, and wishes she could take every class in the HGSE course book. She hopes to pursue either a neuroscience doctoral program or medical school to bridge research and practice in the future.