Putting together a semester’s course schedule is a nontrivial endeavor. Aside from making sure that I’m on track to graduating on time, there’s a lot of “darn I can’t take class A if I take class B because they have mandatory lectures at the same time, but if I push back class B to another semester I’ll have to take it with class C which is an estimated 20 hours/week… aiya I give up.” And no less than five seconds later, I’ll reopen my firehose/Courseroad/ website that shows which major requirements you have and have not completed; handy for making sure you're graduating on time /emotional support chats with yes i know that i'm technically an upperclassman right now. just let me live my wee underclassman days for one last blog to once again rearrange my schedule.
Even better, there is no standardized system for determining who gets to take an overenrolled class. Generally, priority is first given to seniors who need that class to graduate, then based on descending class year and whether you’re a major/minor. But the specifics and exactly when you’re notified of whether you have a spot in that class are subject to the whim of the professor.
Some ask preregistered students to detail why they want to take their class through an the anxiety of writing an email to a writing professor as to why you want to take their writing class or Google Form in early August, then determine the class list way before Registration Day. It’s great for eliminating one unknown variable from your schedule. But it sucks for people who didn’t preregister — which leads to advice to preregister for anything you find remotely interesting. On the other hand, some professors make all interested individuals, regardless of registration status, attend the first class and decide the class list then.
I’d like to share the classes I’m taking this semester, but they’re still in flux. Instead, I’ll share some instances where I was really glad I emailed a professor about something related to course scheduling. In many of these instances, had I not complained about these situations to an emotional support upperclassman, I wouldn’t have known to ask.
1. Ask the prof to save you a seat ahead of time
Sorry this is no longer timely given that the semester is already in full swing, but mayhaps you’ll find this useful for future semesters. If you know way before Registration Day that you want to take a certain class with an enrollment cap, email the prof asking if they can save you a seat! Bonus points if you wax poetic about how your whole life has been leading up to taking this class. I’ve heard that doing so has gotten someone into How to Stage a Revolution, a fairly popular class. Obviously you don’t have to be this dramatic, but it generally helps your case to state your interest.
2. Ask the prof if you can still join their class
I was so certain and excited about taking 21W.744 Art of Comic Writing, until I realized that it conflicted with another highly anticipated class with mandatory lectures. Pushing that other class back another semester would force me to either take a hell semester or overhaul my Courseroad for my remaining time at MIT. Begrudgingly, I chose the other class over 21W.744, for which I stupidly did did i mention you should always preregister for classes that you're even vaguely interested in?
Fate had it that I didn’t get into the other class! There I was, feeling dejected about not being able to take either class… until Rihn the wonderful upperclassman swooped over to say, “What if you just emailed the comic writing prof?”
So I did. It would be an overexaggeration to say I poured my heart and soul into explaining how much I loved drawing comics and wanted to improve on the writing part, but I did try. The prof initially emailed back saying that the class was full, but then opened a spot for me a few days later!
I absolutely love this class and will not drop it for anything this semester. It’s going to be so worth the Courseroad overhaul and upcoming hell semester (easy to say because that’s a problem for future me). Every week we’ll write a comic script, so I’m hoping to end up with a few good scripts that I can (and maybe publish?? 🥺) in my own time afterwards.
3. Ask the prof to save you a seat for next year
While I was dealing with the comic writing vs other highly anticipated class dilemma, I preregistered for 21W.784 Apocalyptic Storytelling as a backup plan. While I’ve never been super into dystopian novels, another wonderful upperclassman Zawad had given me rave reviews about 21W.784. After getting off a rather long waitlist, I realized it conflicted with yet another class with mandatory lectures. So of course I instantly went to Zawad to work through this new dilemma.
“What if you just emailed the prof to save you a seat for next year?”
So I did. I made sure to stress the fact that next fall, my senior fall, will be my last chance to take 21W.784. The prof said sure! Problem solved.
- when in doubt, preregister
- when in doubt, email the prof
- not explicitly stated anywhere above, but scheduling issues are inevitably going to throw curveballs (tbh more like explosive bowling balls) at the Courseroad you’ve just spent hours curating. don’t get too attached to them.
- website that shows which major requirements you have and have not completed; handy for making sure you're graduating on time back to text ↑
- yes i know that i'm technically an upperclassman right now. just let me live my wee underclassman days for one last blog back to text ↑
- the anxiety of writing an email to a writing professor as to why you want to take their writing class back to text ↑
- did i mention you should always preregister for classes that you're even vaguely interested in? back to text ↑
- (and maybe publish?? 🥺) back to text ↑