The first Monday of every block is a time of icebreakers, excitement, and an hour-and-a-half class. But for some — especially those on a wait list for a course — your Monday could consist of running laps around campus.
According to Head Registrar Phil Apodaca, there are approximately 24,000 courses either added or dropped a year. With all that movement, and with the right know-how, you can use the system to your advantage.
Most colleges in the US prioritize class wait lists by seniority. At CC, students are given points with which they can bid on courses.
The catch: the “point worth” of classes can vary drastically from year to year.
Apodaca, who has worked with the point system for years, has some tips on how to work the system when wait-listed.
Double book: Sign up for a back-up class that doesn’t have a wait list. You can’t be on two wait lists at once, but you can be both in a class and on a wait list.
Reach out: There are two professors you should be contacting when you are wait-listed for a particular class—the professor of the course you want to get into and the professor of your backup class. Let them know your situation.
Make a Game Plan: Show up at the wait-listed class early and assess whether the class will be in full attendance or not. If the class does fill, Apodaca suggests sprinting to your backup class before they fill your spot.
Follow Up: If you didn’t get into a particular class, meet with that professor later that afternoon. There are always students who drop courses if they realize the class didn’t match their expectations.
In addition to planning for the worst, a student can also be proactive in the way they distribute their points.
“I think that it is up to the student,” Apodaca said. “It may be a product of bad advising. If you’re putting 75 points on a course, you know you’re not going to get anything else for the rest of the year.”
In addition, as a student progresses in their major, classes tend to be more specialized within a particular subject, making them easier to get into.
Genevieve Love, head of the English Department, also has some tips on how to communicate with a professor of a class you’re on the wait list for.
“I am happy to hear from students on the waiting list who plan to attend on the first day, to introduce themselves and let me know that they’ll be there,” said Love, “but I do not appreciate being asked what their chances are and especially whether I will admit extra students.”
In addition, she immediately strikes students not present at the start of the class from the enrollment list.
“I admit students off the waiting list who are present in the order of the waiting list,” she said. “I don’t consider class year, major, or whether the student emailed me—just the order of the list.”
Sophomore theatre major Andrea More recently put 49 of her 80 points on Steven Hayward’s highly sought “Beginning of Fiction Writing Workshop” class.
“I had put 49 points on the class, though based on the points people allocated to it last year, I only needed still 46,” More said. “Still, I ended up being number one on the wait list. There were at least six other wait listers that showed up on the first day and once the clock hit 9:00 a.m., Steve shut the door and told everyone who wasn’t in the class to get out.”
“It’s evident the situation is flawed because so often people don’t get into classes they really want, let alone classes they need for their major,” More said. “What happens if you’re a senior English major and you can’t get into ‘Intro to Shakespeare?’ I can’t think of a viable alternative system, but it appears this one is broken.”
Despite some of the negative aspects of the points system, Apodaca suggests that the points system functions better than most alternatives.
“I think it’s at least sort of fair,” said Apodaca. “I think it’s more fair than standing in line. It’s up to how the student uses it.”
Jack Sweeney, Managing Editor