Course Registration Tips


Stephanie Mace, Senior, Life Editor

So its 2:44 pm and you’re eagerly anticipating your 2:45 registration time. You’ve already determined which courses you want, strategically structuring your schedule so you can sleep until 10 am every day and remain a regular at Ath tea. You log in and—oh no, the classes you’d so carefully selected have already filled. What do you do? How do you prevent this situation from happening again?

In my experience, it always helps to email the professor of a popular class you really want to take before registration. Let them know why you want to take their class (and don’t mention that it gets out just in time for Ath chocolate covered strawberries.)

Also, make sure to have a back-up plan. Come up with multiple versions of your schedule, just in case that psychology section you had your eye on fills before your registration time.

Lastly, if you really have your heart set on a class, go to the first day and talk to the professor—they just may accept your PERM.

Read on below for some tips from other members of the Forum Staff.

Haley Goodman ’17, Editor-in-Chief

  • Email every professor for each class you want to take. This way, you're not just another name on the PERM list. Email them before registration and after, if the class is closed.
  • Take the professor, not the class! Sometimes the most "boring" sounding classes are taught by amazing professors and the other way around. Talk to upperclassmen about which classes they loved and vet professors through them.
  • Easiness is overrated. You're here to learn. Sometimes the most difficult classes can be the most rewarding. I took an "easy" psych class and hated myself for it because I learned nothing.
  • Have at least three backups. Even when I was a junior with an 1pm registration time, I nearly cried in my apartment in Istanbul because I got shut out of two classes. That also might have been because it was midnight in Turkey. Either way, have backups for your backups.

Sidd Mandava ’17, Managing Editor

  • If there is a professor you don't know much about, look at their CV on the CMC faculty websites and see what types of research they have been doing. Often, some of the most interesting lessons come when professors bring in their personal research into the classroom.
  • Never Never Never use keyboard shortcuts with the Portal website!
  • If you want to know more about the workload or topics covered in a certain class, don't hesitate to e-mail the professor for a syllabus or just additional information; they're almost always happy to help.
  • Go through all the different catalog sections, you never know when you're going to find a random super cool class buried deep within some subsection of the Scripps Politics/Policy catalog.
  • Don't stress out too much. Things often work out they way they're supposed to.

Lauren D’Souza ’18, Copy Editor

Before registration:

  • Go to the CMC registrar’s degree audit and figure out what classes you need for your major and to finish your GEs. Prioritize GEs! I finished all my GEs by fall of my sophomore year and I totally did not regret having the freedom to take any classes I want after that.
  • Read this piece about why you shouldn’t only rely on RateMyProfessors when choosing your classes. Ask your upperclassmen friends for professor and class recommendations (particularly for GEs). Better yet, drop by the Registrar's office and ask to see course evaluations—they are available for all of us to look at and are far more accurate and helpful resources for us to use!
  • If there’s a class you're interested in but you’re not totally sure, email the professor and ask for the syllabus or ask to meet with them. Not only will this show your demonstrated interest in the class and maybe make your PERM more likely to be accepted, but you’ll get a preview of the class before committing to it.

After registration:

  • Didn’t get that class you really wanted? Of course, submit a PERM and email the professor with a longer description of why you think you’d be good for the class. Personalize your email with information about the course, your past experience, your interests, and why you want to take it in general. Most professors I know will not accept PERMs unless you email them after!
  • Feel like you have to settle with a subpar four course load? Don’t stress about it right now! There is a lot of turnover at the beginning of every semester, and professors may accept your PERMs after students drop the class and there are new openings.
  • Next semester, attend the first session of classes you want to get into. Professors want to see your interest, see your face, and note that they need to accept your PERM.