Life & Other Drugs, On "The Hill"

Oh, Icarus: A Cautionary Shopping Period Tale

February 5, 2017

Shopping period during my first year was uneventful as one might expect. As a baby college student, I got to every class 30 minutes early, I scrambled to download my readings before the second week, and shopping multiple classes at the same time? Out of the question.

I was a jaded junior at the beginning of the year. I flew through shopping period effortlessly, dropping and adding classes like nothing, nodding confidently during lectures as if I had actually done the reading. I knew what I was about.

Then this semester rolled around and everything changed. I flew too close to the sun.

the cosmic universe @ my pain and suffering

This is a cautionary tale to all those who think they can scam the system. Perhaps there really is no shopping period for upper class students and upper class seminars. Perhaps we are all just floating in the abyss.

I’ve been considering dropping my political science concentration for a while, but there was this Friday afternoon seminar that for some inexplicable reason, I figured I should at least pop into the first class for. Even though I was literally 95% sure I wasn’t gonna take the class. Oh, what a fool I was.

I walk into this political theory seminar, thinking I’d hang out in the back row,  ready to quietly slink out whenever I got bored. The second I stepped foot inside the classroom, I was assaulted by a barrage of questions from the professor:

“Are you registered for the course? Are you a poli sci major? Are you a senior?”


I sort of just yelped “yES?” even though only the first two things there were correct. He handed me a syllabus and asked “Are you taking it for sure or shopping?” I mumbled “Uh, shopping.” Then he looked at me and gave me a…..”hmph.”

Hmph. HMPH. H M P H!

I have never been “hmphed” by a professor before. I think I might have blacked out. When I awoke, he elaborated, “Speak to me after class about this.”

Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. There is no escape. Nothing to do but sit in a chair and wait (to make matters worse, the desks were all in a CIRCLE formation). Dear faithful reader, what is one to do in this situation? Nothing but hope the first class would be a brief one.

But of course it wasn’t going to be, because the next thing out of the professor’s mouth was, “We’ll go over the syllabus in an in-depth way, and I’ll be giving a mini lecture as preparation for next class. ”

New plan. Sit in this chair rigidly until the class ends. Blink and breathe only when needed.

Because my life is a big cosmic joke, I couldn’t even do that. About five minutes into the lecture, he asked us to raise our hands if we had never taken a constitutional law class before. I certainly hadn’t, but I CERTAINLY wasn’t going to be the only one to not raise their hand. I was in the clear. I thought. Until he said “Let’s go around and say exactly which constitutional law class we’ve taken and with which professor.”

me when I realize my hubris has gotten me into a diddly darn mess.

Dear reader, spontaneous combustion would have been better than this.

My dignity went out the window that day, truly. I stayed in the class for another hour, listening to a lecture I barely understood, feeling like an absolute fraud. The moment we took a break, I booked it out of there with a “I’m planning on shopping more classes but I’ll let you know!”

I survived. But not every student is as lucky as I am. If you or a loved one is trapped in a class that you desperately want to leave, know that you are not alone. Before you shop classes, consider your semester level and the size of the class. Will shopping really be possible? If you are not sure or have a history of being trapped in classes, speak to your advisor or professor right away before shopping said class. Do not feel obligated to stay in the cruel world of academia. Leave while you can. Be free.

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