For students, as well as the administration, the concept of waitlisting is a guessing game.
Barbara J. Noble, a senior associate at the Office of the University Registrar, says waitlisting is “a lot of forecasting,” where the registrar never knows exactly how many students will choose a certain class, but they try to make the best guess.
“Sometimes you guess wrong,” Noble said. “And sometimes you’re restricted by the resources that you have.“
“When you have a growing university, it’s hard to keep up with classroom space, so we work closely with admissions to make sure we’re not admitting more students than we can accommodate,” she said.
While the administration says it does what it can to alleviate students‘ stress in relation to getting necessary classes, individual departments and faculty members handle class registration in their own way.
Sean Davis, a lecturer in the computer science department, advises students not to give up if they’re on the waitlist because the lower division classes he teaches tend to have a tremendous drop rate.
“It does cause problems early on,” Davis said, “because the lecture halls can’t handle everybody because those on the waitlist and the people who end up dropping are both in the same room at the same time.“
In the past, Davis has also expanded his courses.
“There’s a limit to course size based on room capacity that’s set by the fire marshal,” he said. “Right now, we’re in 106 Wellman [where] it holds 132 people and the capacity is 130. So we can expand [the course size] by two people.“
Kenneth I. Joy, a computer science professor, believes course capacity to be a UC-wide problem.
“We all have campuses that are too small and classes that are way too large,” Joy said.
“The best way I’ve found [to handle waitlisting], is to tell the students to come in, sit on the floor if you want, give a good solid first assignment and [have it] due in a week, and we’ll see how many seats are open [then],“ he said.
Students agree that signing up for classes can be very stressful at times.
“I’ve had a couple of classes where it’s really stressful to be put on the waitlist,” said Savannah Duguay, a senior exercise biology major. “If you need that class and you only have a certain number of quarters left, it’s kind of scary to be in this awkward limbo phase where you don’t know if you can get in or not.“
“Most times if I’m number 10, I just drop it because there’s usually no chance of getting in,” she said.
The molecular and cellular biology department blocks enrollment towards the end of the second passtime so no more students can register for that class.
The department re-prioritizes the waitlist so that those students who have already filed to graduate, who are graduating this quarter or who really need it for their major have first priority, said Carole Nicholson, a student affairs officer.
Classes with limited lab space are highly impacted by the waitlist.
“More money so that we can pay more instructors, order more supplies and hire more teaching assistants would help the situation,” Nicholson said.
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