Coping with Course Scheduling: Damage Control for an Incomplete Schedule

I could hardly believe it when campus received the e-mail about scheduling courses for the spring semester already. With a whirlwind of an amazing first semester, it’s hard to think ahead to next semester in merely November. After countless meetings with our advisors and scrounging the official schedule of classes for the best courses and time slots, the dreaded day will soon come when we open up our Spring 2012 course schedule to find anything BUT our perfect schedule. I about had a panic attack when I opened my schedule for this fall semester, only to find one course on my schedule after perfectly crafting my classes and every alternate. However, I ended up with a schedule I LOVE because I learned damage control. So, when you find yourself freaking out without a full course load in the coming days, take this advice into account to create the best schedule yet.

Check why you didn’t get into classes on the scheduling report
When you open the link to your spring semester schedule, you’ll see another link to Requests Processing Report, which is a report of how you were scheduled. This report will explain just why you didn’t get into your ideal classes. It may be as simple as it was already filled by the time your last name was filtered through the system, but you also may be on hold for a course based on the time slot. This may show you if there is still an option to get in the course. Also, it will give you insight on how to avoid the problem in the coming scheduling for future semesters. This extensive report is a downer, but at least it will give you some answers to your frustration.
Politely plead to professors
Still need a Science and Math credit even though you despise the subject matter? Don’t tell your potential future professors that! Look up course descriptions of classes you may fill your schedule with before asking to get in the class. Talk about aspects of the class that seem interesting to you. Make sure to be very polite when e-mailing professors you haven’t met before. At the same time, be honest about the situation you’re stuck in with a lack of classes or what requirements you’re still looking to fill. If you ask him/her to at least be placed on a waitlist for the class, he/she will be much more understanding than if you demand a SPAC code.
Wait lists are the light at the end of the tunnel
Speaking of wait lists, they’re you’re best option if you can’t join an already full class. You’d be surprised how classes open up once the semester begins. If you can get yourself in line for a class you’re really passionate about taking, you’re one step closer to finally adding it to your schedule officially.
That being said: be patient! Classes won’t open up right away, so if you begin your semester without a full course load, you’re bound to hear from professors about wait lists you’re on. Sometimes professors will let you sit in on the class, and if you express enough interest to go, they’ll notice. One regret I have is filling my schedule with 8 AM classes only to later hear from professors about openings once the fall semester got closer. It’s not a race to fill your schedule, so give the system a little time, and you’ll be at the top of list before you know it!
SPACS are gold… and hard to come by
Like I said before, don’t demand a special permission access code from professors. If you happen to receive one of these magical numbers, take advantage of it! Thank the professor graciously, and allow yourself to do a quick happy dance for so patiently waiting it out! Don’t expect to get in all the classes you want with SPACS, but maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few!
Fill your schedule…for now
If you’re seriously lacking credits through the initial registration, you at least get priority in filling your schedule. Beginning at 8 AM on November 16, you can adjust your unfilled schedule with courses with open slots. So set your alarm, grab a large cup of coffee, and wait for the 8 AM bell to strike. Check the schedule before it opens again to know what classes have openings so you’re not scrambling, watching classes continue to fill up. Prepare your back up options and type those courses in as quickly as you can! Then, you’ll at least have classes to give you a temporary fix until waitlists and SPACS start flying. It gave me piece of mind to have four classes before I got into the classes I really wanted.
Declare your major
I declared my Communication major in hopes it would give me a priority in course scheduling last semester. Though I didn’t get in classes right away, having a major and advisor in the department gave me insight to classes that may open up in the department. Once you declare, you have an “in” with the department and can gain some insight to what’s happening with professors’ plans to open up more sections.
Talk with your advisor
Our advisors do more for us than simply provide registration codes and sign off on paperwork. They’re here to help us find the best classes and stay on track with our requirements. If you express your concerns about fulfilling your major and graduation requirements while still enjoying your classes, they’ll work with you. Again, be the charming, polite advisee I know you are! Your advisor is on your side and wants to see you succeed.
Branch out
Still not getting into the classes you desire? Check out the more obscure art classes or even fitness classes to get some additional credits. This is a liberal arts school after all, so we have some leeway to take out-of-the-ordinary courses. Ask your friends, classmates, and professors about classes they recommend. Be forewarned though, may not be 100% accurate, but still check out professors before signing up for an off-the-beaten-path course so you don’t end up in an impossible course you’re not even passionate about. Keep an open mind, and pave the way for your fellow collegiettes; who knows, it could end up being one of your favorite classes!
I know it will all work out in the end, no matter how frustrating the system may be. Take advantage of the resources DePauw provides us, and make the best of the opportunity to take some great classes while you’re here. You can get the system to work with you more than your realize, and course scheduling won’t seem so daunting anymore!