Registration Day Tips

(image captured from Futurama via Netflix)

Merry College Registration Day! For most of you, if registration for the upcoming term hasn’t started, it’s just about to. The first day of registration is a little bit like Black Friday – there’s a limited amount of stock and a whole lotta people want it.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve figured out what to take next semester, how to come up with a schedule and what to expect during your meeting with your advisor. We’ve been preparing for this day and we’re ready! To round out our Planning for Next Semester series, I’ve got a few things to keep in mind about the act of registration.

What exactly is registration?

Registration is the process in which you select and commit to attend specific courses for an upcoming term. Registration officially reserves your spot in a class. Be careful not to confuse this term with application, enrollment or matriculation. The process of registrations varies by institution: you might be able to register yourself online, at some schools your advisor might be able to register you for classes, and there may be a few instances where you’ll have to stand in line at the Registrar’s Office. When you spoke with your advisor at your meeting, s/he most likely went over that in detail.

When do I register?

At most schools, there’s a tiered method to registration that is related to specific groups (VA beneficiaries, Honors) or classification (seniors, then juniors, then sophomores, then freshmen). Many schools use the time ticket method whereby you can log in to your student portal to check the date when you’re eligible to register. If your school doesn’t use time tickets, it’s typically found on the school’s academic calendar. Often, it’s advertised over campus. Worst case scenario, which isn’t so bad at all, you can always ask your advisor.

It’s also helpful to know the time of the day of your registration window. I recall staying up late at night waiting for midnight so I could get the classes I needed and wanted. At the school where I work now, registration starts at 7:00am. Whatever the time, make sure you’ve been to the restroom and are well-hydrated and have snacks because you don’t want the clock to strike the registration moment without being in front of your computer!

What if I can’t get into the class I want?

First, we need to diagnose the reason you can’t get into the class.

Is there a pre-requisite requirement for the class that you haven’t completed?

If you feel like the pre-requisite shouldn’t apply to you or that you’ve completed it, you should contact the department that offers the course. For example – are you trying to get into Calc I but you get a pre-requisite error saying you need Pre-Calc? You should contact the Math department for more information or a pre-requisite override.

Is there a group restriction on that particular section (i.e. a section reserved for Honors students)?

Chances are, if you’re not part of that cohort, you won’t be allowed to register for that class, as the curriculum might be slightly changed to cater more toward that population. However, it never hurts to ask, so contact the department that offers the course to see if you can get an override.

Is the class full?

When a class is full, the course’s enrollment is at its full capacity. Some schools employ a waitlist system, so I strongly advise you to put yourself on the waitlist for that section.

  • Keep in mind there may be restrictions regarding the waitlist like you can’t be on a waitlist for a section course when you’re already registered for a different section of that course or you can’t be on the waitlists of multiple sections of the same course.
  • Keep an eye on your email! You’ll most likely get a notification if a spot becomes available and you’ll have a finite amount of time to register for that waitlisted class.

If your school doesn’t have a waitlist system, you could always try your luck with calling the department to see if you can get a capacity override that will allow you to register for the course.A lot of times, the enrollment capacity is lower than the capacity that the fire marshall will allow, so it’s worth it to at least ask.

If you can’t get a capacity override, fret not. Keep an eye on the schedule, check it multiple times a day. If someone ends up dropping from that section, you can scoop it right up! You may need to be patient; you’ll see the most dropping activity happen during the first week of the term.

Follow up

Once you’ve registered, breathe a sigh of relief! The hard work’s done. However, I’d recommend you take a look at your registration once a week (every other week during the summer) prior to the beginning of the term. Sometimes rooms change or even the days and times will change, due to factors way beyond your control or even the control of the instructor. You may not be notified of these changes, so it’s on you to make sure you keep yourself in the loop. You want to keep checking so that you can see problems as they arise and maybe give yourself enough time to get a resolution by possibly reworking your schedule, if needed.

My goodness, here we are! The end of my first series on Pretty Officer Kidd. What did you think? Would you like to see more series? Do you have an idea for me or a burning question you need answered? As always, I’m only a few clicks and keystrokes away!

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