Planning & Goals · School · Wildcards

Registration Preparation: Checklist & Cheat Sheet

For me and my fellow college students, registration is just around the corner. (For my friends at UNCW, it begins April 4th!)

I know that registration is a stressful time for many students, so in order to (hopefully) combat that, I’ve put together a checklist for registration.

registration timeline, preparation checklist for college students for class schedule

1 Month Before

  • Review degree & gen ed requirements. My school and many others have a tool called a degree audit. Locate it, run it, and use it. It will tell you exactly how many credit hours you have already completed toward your degree and what classes you have left to take. Also make sure to review which classes fulfill your gen ed requirements.
  • Check course catalog. This is usually available months before registration opens, and there is no excuse to wait until your registration time begins to start looking at classes. Outline which courses you want to take based on the requirements from your degree audit.
  • Make mock-up schedules & backups. This is the fun part. If you don’t like mocking up schedules, can do it for you (and I have a post about that coming up next week!). If you want to do it yourself, here’s the simple template I use.
  • Meet with your adviser(s)Usually you’re required to do this in order to get your registration PIN. Don’t put it off! Bring your mock-up schedule with you for them to approve, and it will be quick and painless.
  • Request any necessary overrides. If you’re going to be an overachiever and take a class you’re not technically authorized to take, make sure you get someone to override the system beforehand. This task could be directed to the departmental adviser, your personal adviser, or the teacher of the class.

1 Week Before

  • Double-check the course catalog. Make sure nothing has changed as far as which classes are being offered. If something has changed, you are going to need to choose one of your backup courses.
  • Write down course IDs. I normally do this while creating mock schedules, but go into the catalog system and write down or type all of the ID numbers of the courses you want to take. My school and many others have a drop/add system where you can add multiple courses at once by pasting their ID numbers into boxes on the registration page, and this is much faster than manually going through the catalog to drop or add. Faster means you have a better chance of getting the classes you want.
  • Clear schedule for registration time. Figure out exactly when your time to register is, not only to the day but to the time. Clear your schedule so that you can log on at exactly 10 a.m. (or whenever your personal registration time starts) and get in as fast as possible.
  • Do any “1 month before” tasks remaining. If you slacked off on the previous list, finish all those tasks now.

During Registration

  • Alter schedule as availability changes. If you are not among the first wave of students to register (and if you’re not a senior, an athlete, or an honors student, you’re probably not), classes will fill up before you get to register. Check back often on the classes you want to see if they have filled up. If they have, it’s time to make some changes.
  • Watch course availability changes before your scheduled registration time. It’s very important to check back frequently so that you don’t get caught by surprise when you try to register for a full class.
  • Log on to course portal as soon as your registration time begins. If your registration time begins at 10 a.m. on April 4th, you had better be logged in by 10:01. Speed is key in getting the courses you want and need.
  • Add all courses at once via ID number. As mentioned above, most registration portals allow you to add multiple classes at once if you know their ID (or CRN) number. Refer to the list you made a week before registration and copy/paste for the fastest results.
  • Join waitlist for unavailable courses (if possible). Joining the waitlist is the best way to get into a class that’s full. The system will automatically add waitlisted students if students in the course drop. If the waitlist is full, you’ll just have to wait till drop/add. (Or, if you know the professor well, you can ask very nicely if they’ll exceed the student limit to get you an override.)

After Registration (Drop/Add)

  • Drop any unwanted courses and add backups instead. During drop/add, which is the first week or so of classes, class populations will fluctuate rapidly. Keep an eye on your backup courses if you think you might drop a course.
  • Purchase books & any other necessary items. Sometimes, even though your school will give you a book list, the professor will not actually require you to use a book. You can save a lot of money if you wait until the first week of classes to purchase your books (or if you email your professor ahead of time to ask which books are truly “required”).
  • Re-check course availability frequently (if you didn’t make the waitlist). If you didn’t get into a class or its waitlist, drop/add is your last chance. Keep an eye on the coveted class and notice when a spot opens up.

Those are the main points! Course planning and registration is a strange hobby of mine, so if you have any additional questions or want advice on your schedule, I would love to help. 🙂

Happy registration!


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