Course Selection Period, informally known as "shopping period,"  refers to the first ten days of the term (roughly) wherein students can visit courses before finalizing their schedules. Classes conducted during the first two weeks of the term are regular, full-fledged classes in which readings, homework, and, occasionally, quizzes or exams, are assigned, so students must be prepared to keep up with assignments and participate fully in each class that he or she may wish to visit.

Each class of students has a different deadline for submitting their final schedule; first-year students are the first to submit, while seniors are the last. All students must finalize their schedule a few days before their class-year deadline, and are required to have their advisor(s) or department(s) sign off on them. Once submitted, students may not add any additional courses–although they can drop courses without consequence as late as mid-semester. In addition, students can still switch discussion sections or labs using the Course Add/Drop form from their residential college dean.

It is recommended that a student in the fall term sign up for 4 or, at most, 4.5 credits. Most students take nine credits over the course of the fall and spring terms, usually dividing them 4.5 + 4.5 or, more commonly, 4 + 5. While acclimating to Yale, it is generally not advisable to enroll in five or more credits, unless special circumstances pertain. Residential college deans, academic advisers, and the directors of undergraduate studies in the various academic departments are all available to advise students on a suitable term course load.