How to Register for College Classes
Last updated March 24, 2022
Registering for college classes can be intimidating - especially at bigger schools with limited spots available! We know that time quite literally is money at college, especially when you’re paying tuition. Here’s everything you need to know about registering for college classes - like how to pick classes and how to prepare to register - to make your next registration day go smoothly and stress-free!
Clear any holds
Check your student account online to make sure you don’t have any holds that are preventing you from registering. These “holds,” or things that are flagged in your online student account, can vary from not having paid your tuition for the following quarter/semester, to not returning a book or piece of equipment from the library (if you’re a returning student). You can’t register for classes with any kind of hold on your account - make sure they’re all cleared well before it’s time to register! Check in with your school’s student services department or financial aid office to learn more about getting your holds lifted.
While you’re on your student account, take the time to familiarize yourself with it and all of its different functions. Locate where and how to register for classes, and practice registering a few times. Every second matters when you’re actually registering for classes - spending some time practicing before can save you some extra time and even help you get into a class you really want!
Pick your classes early
Before registering, open up your school’s general education/core curriculum and course catalog and read it thoroughly. This is a great opportunity to explore majors or classes that interest you. If you have already declared a major, be sure to look closely at its course and credit requirements to make sure the classes you want to take will help you stay on track to graduate. Consider these things a week or two before registering - it can save you some panic on the day you actually register.
Here are some other important considerations when picking classes:
- Do I really need to take this class? Will taking this class advance you in getting your degree? Is it required in order to graduate in your major? Will it give you enough credits?
- Does this class make sense with my schedule? While academics are the most important thing about attending college, you may likely have other obligations outside of school, like work, hobbies, clubs, and friends. Will taking this class interrupt your ability to do other things? Think about this particularly when considering taking a class that you don’t need to graduate.
- What electives can I take? You can learn AND have fun in college! If your schedule allows it, try taking a fun, low-credit course. Some colleges offer electives like ballet, improv acting, or painting to help students explore their interests outside of their majors.
Choose backup classes
You never know that classes will fill up quickly - it’s important to always have some backup classes in mind! It’s better to have a backup plan than scramble to search for other classes while you register. Be sure that these backup classes still fit your course and graduation requirements, just like your first choice ones.
Now that you’ve identified your list of primary and backup classes, it’s time to meet with your academic advisor.
Meet with your academic advisor
Whether it’s required or optional to register for classes, it’s always good to meet with your academic advisor beforehand. After meeting with them and talking through your intended schedule for the following quarter or semester, you can register with confidence. Be sure to show up to these meetings prepared with a list of classes you want to take, including your backup classes. There are many other important things you can and should talk about with your advisor during your meetings with them, so be sure to read our tips on how to make your meeting with your academic advisor productive!
The day of
Set an alarm to register
Registering for classes and/or getting the class time you want for the perfect class schedule can be pretty competitive at some schools. Look for a registration period alert in your student account/email to know when your registration time is and set an alarm for 10-15 minutes before this time. You will want to be at your computer with a good internet connection with enough time to restart your computer, troubleshoot, or address any student account issues.
If you don’t get into a class you want, get on the waitlist for the class and sign up for any alerts from the professor (if this is an option). Make an appointment with your counselor to see if you have any special circumstances that can help your case for getting a spot in the class, like needing the class to graduate ASAP.
Keep an eye on the waitlist and any announcements from the professor for additional seat openings. If there is a chance to move off the waitlist, make sure you are staying informed of what is going on in that class. You can do this by asking someone you know in that class, or staying in touch with the teacher’s assistant.
If you do end up getting into the class, submit your paperwork to be officially admitted into the class ASAP, and withdraw from the other class you were in. If you don’t end up getting into the class, don’t stress! Be sure to talk to your academic advisor to make a backup plan and learn more about other classes that could work with your schedule.