Waitlists are good in theory, stressful in practice

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By Kourtney David | Copy Editor

My fingertips tremble and the adrenaline kicks in as I click the refresh button right at 8 p.m. Hours of preparation have led me here—meeting with advisors, constantly checking section openings and finally crafting a schedule. I rush to type all of my CRN numbers into BearWeb, say a prayer (quickly; time is wasting) and click submit.

My grand total: seven scheduled hours. Nice! That’s better than last time.

Class registration at Baylor can be very difficult, especially for students who are going through it for the first time. However, the waitlist process is the most grueling of all, and there seems to be no easy fix for it.

According to the Office of the Registrar’s waitlist guidelines, students have the option to place themselves in line in case a seat opens up for course sections that are already full. The waitlist is first-come, first-served; there are no restrictions on how long a list can be, and it remains open until the last day to add classes.

Oftentimes, there are a couple of sections open for the same course, so if one fills up, students can add themselves to an open section. However, this isn’t always the case. Section seat numbers may be so small that all sections are full, and some upper-level classes only open 15 to 20 seats total.

The next step on a student’s registration checklist is to wait, and this waiting can take months. You may not even be admitted into your classes until the night before they begin, if you’re admitted at all.

Waiting during the summer or winter for a waitlist notification can cause unnecessary anxiety, and students deserve to be able to plan in advance. In addition, this long wait time can cause trouble with the academic and financial status of the student.

The Office of the Registrar’s FAQ website states that class sections that a student is waitlisted for will not count toward his or her enrolled hours. A student’s enrolled hours determine his or her financial aid eligibility, which many students rely on. Students aren’t considered full-time students unless they’re taking at least 12 hours.

Reaching a full-time schedule shouldn’t be hard, as the university offers an array of classes in many different majors. What students are finding is that it is often impossible to get into the classes that are required for graduation. At one point, I was waitlisted for every class I had left to take on my audit, and I still didn’t qualify to be a full-time student.

Students can waitlist as many classes as they want, but they can only waitlist one section of each class. If all sections of a class you need are full, you must pick the one with the shortest waitlist and hope that enough people drop the right one. There’s just no alternative for classes with one small section.

The Office of the Registrar’s solution for students trying to reach 12 hours is to add themselves to a bunch of classes they don’t need, just to reach the hour count. This seems counterintuitive since those seats are being taken from someone else who is having the same problem. Regardless, this is the way that most Baylor students fix their schedules in order to receive their fall and spring bills.

Other schools around the country utilize the waitlist option, but I wonder whether it is to give their students a choice with their schedules or if it is out of necessity. The registration system needs to be more forgiving to students. Don’t let waitlist restrictions be the reason why students stress when good education should be the priority.