Course registration was a couple of days ago for my year at my university. As my registration time was early, I parked my not-quite-awake self in front of the computer to monitor the number of open spots left. After ensuring no last minute changes were necessary and frantically clicking “refresh registration status”, my registration finally opened. I clicked “register all” and waited for the “all courses registered successfully” message to appear. It didn’t. One of my required courses just wouldn’t register. After re-clicking “register course” several times (it could have been a computer glitch…) I realized that the system didn’t think I had the first year pre-requisites for that course. This was when my “darn it! How could I have been so stupid” moment kicked in.
In first year, I did a “special” program with course codes that differed from the typical first year course codes. These “special” course codes are usually included in the pre-reqs alongside their equivalents, but not for this course. Furthermore, I assumed that like most courses, I could register first, then wait for humans to sort out the pre-reqs later. Unfortunately, this course doesn’t do that and just bars anyone without the listed pre-reqs from registering.
My “how could I have been so stupid moment” stemmed from the fact that I knew my “special” course codes weren’t listed as pre-reqs. However, I just assumed that I could register for this course first and wait for pre-req checks later. I would have realized this wasn’t the case if I had just done a test registration (yet another mistake). After a mini “aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!” moment, I e-mailed the course coordinator while watching the number of available seats in the course decrease. Fortunately, this was sorted out soon after and I made it into the course.
Although this issue was resolved quickly, it was a headache that could have been avoided easily. Here are some of the things I learned from this process:
1. Don’t be complacent! Remember to check pre-requisites carefully, e-mail the course coordinator/department if there is even a tiny concern, and do test registrations if possible. It’s better to be careful early than to realize too late that things are screwed up, especially if you’ve done something that’s not the norm. Be vigilant even if you’ve registered for courses before without trouble!
2. Don’t assume! This goes for more than course planning.
3. Learn from other people’s experiences. If I had asked the students in the year ahead of me (who did the same program I did in first year) about this course, they would have told me to e-mail the course coordinator first. On the flip-side, some sources are more reliable than others. When conflicting opinions arise, go to the official source.
4. Have a Plan B. Think briefly about what to do if something goes south (before it does!). Know where to find the contact information of people who could help, fix, or speed things up.
5. Take action and be patient. In my case, I ended up e-mailing the course coordinator and my first year program’s coordinator. I also asked people from previous years and my year whether they had any trouble registering for this course (a little too late, but better late than never). I didn’t have to contact so many people, but doing something made me feel less helpless as I waited. Try a few different routes to solve a problem without going overboard. If you’ve exhausted all options, calm down or move on to something that could keep you occupied.
Hopefully your course registration went/goes more smoothly than mine did! (Comments? Write them below!)