November 20th, 2010
So you've been sitting at the computer trying to piece together your schedule for the next semester. After mixing and matching, you've finally found a few classes that fit well together. But there's one missing component — an all-too-important class that's full and no one seems to be dropping it. No doubt that it's a frustrating experience, especially if you need it to make progress toward your desired graduation date. Fortunately, there are some measures that can be taken that will give you the opportunity to maneuver your way in.
When scheduling online, depending on the format of your school's website, there should be an option to join a waitlist when a class is full. If not, you might be able to sign up for one in person, either through the department that offers the class or possibly through the registrar's office. It's first come first serve, so the first person to sign up for it — also the first unlucky person to find out the class is full — gets first dibs when someone drops the class. Typically, most students rearrange their schedules before the semester begins, providing opportunities for other students to jump in their vacated spots.
If the semester is creeping up and you haven't yet been added to the class, speak to the professor. In many cases, they have final authority over how many people can take their class, and if you explain your situation to them, they might take pity. You can also speak to your advisor, who at least carries some weight in the department of your major and might be able to pull some strings to get you signed-up. Other factors, however, may affect your ability to get in. Often times, its size is determined simply by the capacity of the room in which it'll take place. If its maximum occupancy is 195 people, then 200 might be a fire hazard.
Circumstances may ultimately prevent you from taking the class as planned. Keep in mind that as you move forward in your academic career, you'll be given higher priority in the sign-up pecking order, meaning that it'll be much easier to get the classes you want, when you want them. So not composing the perfect schedule now isn’t the end of the world, nor is it the end of your academic career.