New registration option looks to provide relief for crowded classes

by Katelyn Palladino / Correspondent • April 11, 2013

After a one semester pilot program, a waitlist was added to all classes.
After a one semester pilot program, a waitlist was added to all classes.

When students logged into eCommon to view classes before registration, they likely were greeted by a new feature: Underneath the number of seats for each class was a waitlist with five extra spots.

The registrar’s office added a system that placess students on a waitlist once a class has filled up. Associate Registrar Sarah Miles said that this change to the course selection process was made in the hopes that it would make class selection easier for both students and professors.

“The idea came from student and faculty demand,” said Miles. “We piloted it last semester in the visual and media arts department, but only for a few classes. It worked really well, so we decided to expand it school-wide.”

The system is based around the add/drop process, where students get rid of classes as they register throughout the end of the semester. Miles said that the process is relatively straightforward.

“There are five waitlist seats available for a class,” she said. “If the class is full, you click on the ‘Waitlist Status’, adding yourself to the list. As things go along, and as someone drops the class, the first person on the waitlist gets an email. They’ll have 36 hours from when the email is sent to take the seat. The course will
show that there is a seat open, but a reservation is kept.”

Miles said she believes the system is working well, and that responses from students had been positive.

“I’ve seen a lot of activity on the waitlists,” she said. “So far, we’ve sent out 294 notification emails saying they have gotten off the list and into a class.”

Sophomore Emily Erdbrink said that the addition has made registration less stressful.

“I got waitlisted for Sound Design, which I need for my major, and Islam in the World,” said the visual and media arts major. “I got the email saying I had 36 hours to get the Islam class. I think the waitlists are convenient, because otherwise, anyone could have grabbed that seat.”

Other students, however, have had less luck. Gabrielle Tyson, a sophomore writing, literature, and publishing major, said she was unable to get into three of the four classes she needed.

“I got waitlisted for Shakespearean Tragedy and Introduction to Nonfiction Writing,” said Tyson. “I also couldn’t get into Art of Fiction, because the waitlist was full. I’m a BFA, so there’s a certain number of literature classes I need to take in order to graduate. I need two more 300-level literature classes, plus Art of Fiction is required. It’s hard because there are a lot of BFAs, but only so many 300-level classes available.” 

Miles said she hopes that the new system will push departments to make changes based on which classes are more popular.

“The waitlists should allow departments to see where demands are, and hopefully, where they need to add more sections,” Miles said. “We’ve already seen one department open a second section of a class. We’ve sent out notifications to everyone that had been waitlisted.”

Miles stressed that the registrar does not want classes to be overenrolled, and said she believes the waitlists should make the process fair for students who are required to take certain classes. Tyson said she was less sure about this.

“Now I can’t drop the classes I have without losing them to someone on the waitlist, and I can’t find someone on Facebook to switch with,” she said. “It’s not that the system is bad, but if there aren’t enough of the necessary classes, then it doesn’t solve the problem.”

The system will be reviewed by the registrar to make sure that it is efficient, according to Miles. However, she said shefeels confident that the system will be used next semester.

“Overall, I think the response has been positive,” she said. “I think we will continue using it.”