Especially for the Old Timers: Tips for the EC Classroom Experience

Hands raised in classroom

Harbus-LogoWelcome back to HBS, ECs! It’s your second and final year, and you know the ropes, right? Perhaps.  And likely you’re encountering some new challenges; you may be figuring out that the EC year is not necessarily the breeze you’ve heard it is. We’ve been talking to a few ECs and have heard some common questions and concerns about the EC classroom. And we’ve also gotten some good suggestions for you as you navigate the start of your EC year. The most important things to keep in mind? 1) Have a little patience and 2) Be willing to engage, ask questions, and get help. You’re not expected to be perfect and know everything just because you’re an EC.

You know so much about how HBS works now that you’re an EC, but you’re also facing some new experiences.  The add/drop period can be exciting but stressful. So many choices! What will you choose? Will you get the classes you want?  Who will actually remain in class with you once add/drop is over? Now you’re finally past that and can settle into your classes with the students who will be learning with you all term.

Many aspects of the EC classroom are feeling very familiar. Participation is still a huge part of your education, and a large percentage of your grade depends upon the quality and frequency of your comments. Some of you may feel perfectly comfortable getting into the conversation while others may still struggle with this aspect of the HBS classroom. Either way, by Term 2 last year, you knew your RC section mates pretty well and had the same people to turn to for support in any given course. Now you have a different group in each class, and when you raise your hand, you may feel that sense of risk taking you knew early in the RC.

Also, some of the students (maybe you!) in your current classes may have been taught by your professor during RC year. As a result, those students may know what to expect and so seem more comfortable in class. Remember that before long, you’ll get to know your classmates and will have a much better sense of what your professors expect from you.  

You may know that as an EC, you don’t receive midterm feedback. So how do you determine how you’re doing? The answer is: get to know your professors. Ask them for feedback. They expect this. Also, you’ll likely know at least a few students in your EC classes.  Just as you may have done as an RC, talk to them along with the new people you’ll meet and give one another feedback.

It’s an exciting time of exploration; you’re studying topics you’ve chosen, because they intellectually engage and stimulate you. You have a chance to meet even more students who share your interests. Make the most of this time and seek help if you need it. There are a lot of us here to encourage and support you along the way.

Student & Academic Services staff is available for individual appointments to discuss class participation and any personal concerns you may have. Email us at to schedule an appointment.