Okay, so it’s Opening Days. You’ve met an average of 20 people per day, you’ve been to a lot of fucking workshops explaining too many things that don’t make sense, and you kinda miss home. (That’s okay. We all did.) But to be honest, you’re having a pretty great time, because there’s all this fun stuff going on. Except you wake up one morning and realize that you gotta actually go pick your courses. You know, the shit you’re gonna study for 14 weeks. How do you even begin? We’ve got your back.
1. Balance. Balance. BALANCE. Fuck those people who are already planning to take five courses second semester without actually having taken four classes their first semester. It’s extra, it’s irritating, and quite frankly, those people should not be your friends. If they are, tune them out and focus on choosing classes that are actually interesting to you without a crazy workload.
2. Know yourself. They say to pick a balance of p-set classes and paper classes, but that doesn’t work for everyone. Sometime a blend of course formats can be distracting. If you hate papers, try and minimize those kinds of courses—to a certain extent, of course. You still gotta get Gen-Ed requirements done, but fortunately those are varied enough to please even the most science-averse English concentrator. (Read: yours truly). At the end of the day, try and figure out what kinds of things you gravitate toward, and if you really can’t figure it out, then go for the classic p-set-and-paper balance.
3. Know yourself part 2. if everyone is taking Ec10 (and trust us, most of the people you know will take Ec10) but you don’t even understand basic supply and demand (or want to), then steer clear. There are thousands of courses out there; take something that interests you, for crying out loud. You’re not in high school anymore: you have options, you can try new things, and you don’t have to conform to whatever preconceived ideas people might have placed on you. Seriously.
4. Don’t shop 20 courses. We’ve tried it, and we felt like we were gonna die halfway through Shopping Week. Try and narrow down your list of courses to maybe 10, if you even have that many, and go to those. You’ll feel less anxious. And you might even be able to take something you’ve left off the list in the future.
5. Freshman seminars. Apply for what you really think is cool, because they can be a hit or miss. Also, fair warning—since they’re pass/fail, the semester you end up replacing it with a letter-graded class could hit you harder than you expect.
6. Language courses. They might seem like a waste, but Harvard has stellar language faculty. If you’re really feeling it, and you’re up for the commitment, then go for it. It can literally never hurt you to be well-versed in a different culture and way of living. (Duh.)