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Week two of class registration will begin on Dec. 9. If you got into most of the classes that you wanted, then congratulations—you won’t have much to worry about regarding your schedule next semester in the next few weeks.

However, it may be that you’re stuck on registration waitlists for one or more of the classes you wanted to get into, especially if there is a high demand for the class. Nevertheless, there are still many options available to boost your chances of getting off the waitlist and registered for your dream class!

Check out Spectrum’s tips for things to do if you’re on a waitlist for a class you really want to take.

1. Understand your place on the waitlist

It’s important to first determine whether you’re given a numerical value for the waitlist or if the waitlist is managed completely by the instructor.

If the waitlist is based purely on whoever joined first, then evaluate your waitlist position in conjunction with the size of the class. If the class is a large lecture, particularly for basic introductory courses, and you’re not too high in the 10s, you may still have a good chance of getting in the course if you’re willing to wait a few weeks into the semester. If you’re lower on the waitlist but it’s a small seminar, you may not get in even if you’re number five.

If the waitlist is instructor-managed, there are more steps you can take to help boost your chances of getting in.

2. Communicate with the professor

If your chances of getting into the class are small, or if the waitlist is instructor-managed, emailing or meeting with the professor is an essential thing to do.

You may want to first gain a sense of which students the professor is likely to admit. For example, many professors—especially for required classes—follow the order of seniority when admitting waitlisted students into their class. Others may look for students who are particularly interested, regardless of class year.

Nevertheless, you should email or meet with the professor to show your interest in the class. Make sure you are explicit as to what the class can offer you and why taking the class will benefit you. If the professor can see that you’re particularly interested in the class, then they are more likely to take that into consideration when admitting students off of an instructor-managed waitlist.

Finally, make sure you figure out whether emailing or meeting with the professor is the best option. If the professor is extremely busy, it can be hard to set up a meeting outside of their office hours. On the other hand, while emails can help you establish a relationship with the professor, it might not be as effective as meeting and communicating one-on-one. There are positive and negative aspects to each approach, so make sure to evaluate your situation specifically before choosing an option.

3. Attend the first few classes

Even if the waitlist is numerically evaluated, going to the classes that you’re on the waitlist for may be an option that could show your committed interest in the class. This is also a way to communicate with a professor in person if you haven’t been able to do so already! If the professor sees that you are coming to class regularly, they are more likely to see you are interested in their class.

Attending the first few classes also gives you a way to really see what the material is like and how the class is being taught. You may find that, as you expected, the class is extremely interesting—or you may be surprised to find that the class isn’t what you expected it to be! If you have the time and space in your class schedule for this, it may really help you out in the long run.


One final note: If you do decide not to take the class you’re on a waitlist for, then make sure to leave that waitlist! There may be some other people on the waitlist who need to take the class for a major or Core requirement.

We hope these tips helped, and we hope that you will be able to get into the classes you want!

Staff writer Abhishek Hariharan can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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