November 14, 2021

YAO | The Best Way to Pre-Enroll is Waiting Until Add/Drop

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As a junior, I thought I could get into my classes, no problem. Well, five full minutes of the loading wheel of death later, I was hit with that nightmare-inducing red X for two classes I needed for my major. One of my backup classes filled immediately, and I “didn’t meet the enrollment criteria” (whatever that means) for the other. So, add/drop, here I come. 

I’ve had to build my schedule from the ground up during add/drop for four semesters now. The first time, I got shut-out of classes by virtue of being a first-year. The second time, I got shut out of classes by virtue of being a sophomore. The third time, I was second-guessing my major at the last minute two days before classes started. To be honest, I have no idea what happened this fourth time. Even though the stakes are a bit higher for me this year — the time crunch to finish my requirements before May 2023 is all too real now — I’m not as panicked as I have been in the past. And, as hard as it is, I urge you not to panic either. 

I know that pre-enroll sucks, no matter your grade level. For first-years and sophomores, enrollment priority is lower, so many popular classes have already filled. For juniors and seniors, class sizes for major electives tend to be smaller, and there’s that added fear of not graduating on time if enrollment doesn’t go as planned. On top of that, Student Center’s user interface probably hasn’t been updated in ten years, which makes navigating the site more futile than using a potato as a calculator. No amount of scheming or foresight will ever prepare you for the despair of your third server error in five minutes and your backup class’s backup getting filled. 

Every person I know has had at least one awful pre-enroll experience, but guess what, they’re doing fine. I didn’t finalize my first-year schedule until about a week into the semester after enough people dropped the classes I wanted. My friend slept through enrollment last semester, but she’s still on track to graduate on time. At this point in my college career, I’m over spamming professors with emails and having nightmares over missing out on Introduction to Web Development.

Large classes, in particular, have so much mobility during add/drop. To the first-years and sophomores, I am willing to bet my tuition money that CS 1110: Introduction to Computing and MATH 1110: Calculus I or any other class with over 200 people will open up at some point. Maybe you’ll have a harder time getting into PE 1520: Introduction to Archery or VIEN 2340: Cider Production Lab the first time around, but you have all the semesters ahead of you to try out those types of classes. 

Coursegrab is also an application that makes it easy to track class openings and get alerts about open spots. It’s important to remember that as you drop and swap classes to create your ideal schedule, there are thousands of other students moving around their classes around too. Your pre-enroll schedule will likely not be the iteration you have three weeks into the semester, and that’s to be expected

Furthermore, even if you are one of the unicorns that manages to snag all your top choices first try with minimal buffering, it’s not always a guarantee of smooth sailing down the road. People’s goals change. Majors change. Requirements change. I’ve had miracle semesters where I got into everything I wanted to, only to realize later down the line that I probably should have held off on a class or prioritized something else. Sometimes, needing to forgo a computer science course requirement and settling on that random pipe organ class instead can be a blessing in disguise. You never know.  

So, yes, it’s scary to have a schedule in limbo, and it’s never fun to get stuck in an 8 a.m. Monday discussion because the 1 p.m. session is full. But, trust me, I’ve been playing this game long enough to realize that these things usually have a way of working out in the end. Having a bad pre-enroll is a rite of passage — add/drop will be there to bail you out

Katherine Yao is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Her column, Hello Katie, runs every other Wednesday this semester.