Cautionary Note on Waitlists

Touch-tone registration Waitlists that begin when a course or section has filled with registered students serve a number of uses for faculty, departments, and the College. From the students' perspective, however, there is one important fact to know about how waitlists work. All students should be aware that there is no general rule that when overrides are issued for a class they must be written for students as they appear in numerical order on the waitlist. The waitlist exists to let the faculty member know who and how many students have waitlisted a particular section or course. And yes, the student names do appear on the list in the chronological order in which students added themselves to the list. No individual faculty member or department is obligated, however, to issue overrides by this numerical ordering. It may be felt that other criteria weigh more heavily. For example, class standing (senior, junior, etc.) or whether the student is a concentrator in the department or not may be considered more important than what number a student is on the waitlist. In fact, the only general guess one can reasonably make is that the rule of strictly following the waitlist number is pretty much restricted to lower-level courses that largely enroll first-year students (not all lower-level courses do this).

What does this mean, then, for a student who is about to complete a touch-tone registration? It means that having what appears to be a very good (low) number apparently assuring a place in a class may be, in fact, no guarantee at all. The best advice, then, is NOT to exit touch-tone registration without a full schedule of classes that could be lived with for the coming term. This may seem unnecessarily pessimistic because of the suggestion that not all students may end up with their preferred choices in class scheduling, but the advice is intended to be helpful because it offers the most protection.


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