Registering for Classes


Many of you should have registered for classes by now. The registering process can be confusing. Especially if your advisor tells you nothing about how to register and you haven't read all 1683 pages of the Course Listings Book. As a veteran of the system, I am in a position to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the registering process, which is certainly more than the Course Listings Book does. Also, I only take up three pages.

Q: How do I navigate the Course Listings Book?

A: It is in alphabetical order. This took me several years to figure out, as the actual course name is preceded by several other letters and numbers.

Q: Are these letters and numbers important?

A: Yes.


Q: Well?

A: OH, you want to know WHY? They are important because they are what the university uses to tell what class it is. If you want to register for a class called "Principles of Thermodynamic Science: Deciphering the Environment," you would have to remember those letters and numbers and not the name of the class. Take the following example:

YOU: I would like to take "Principles of Thermodynamic Science: Deciphering the Environment." It certainly was a lot of work remembering that name.

ADVISOR: What department is that in?

YOU: What?

ADVISOR: What department? For example, L56, B56, S34, Y2K, etc.

YOU: I don't know.

ADVISOR: Come back when you figure it out. In the meantime, several thousand other students will fill up all your classes.

Make sure to remember every little letter and number before the class name. Sometimes they like to throw little letters on to the end. M78 102 and M78 102A are entirely different classes. A student who recently graduated from here once told me that he accidentally majored in the wrong subject because he failed to put a 'B' after one of his classes. He is now making a lot of money.

Q: How many classes do I need to take?

A: Well, your advisor will probably make you take five.

ADVISOR: No, six.

A: OK, six courses. You should aim for somewhere around 15 credits per semester. Minimum is 12.

Q: What's the maximum?

ADVISOR: There isn't one.

A: Excuse me... I'm answering these questions, not you. You're an advisor. You should be helping students register for six classes that are scheduled at the same time.

ADVISOR: Oh, yeah. Bye.

Q: So what about the maximum?

A: There isn't one.

Q: What was it you mentioned a little bit ago about classes filling up?

A: Most classes are set up with a maximum number of students. If you arrive anytime later than June 30, at least four of the classes you need to take to graduate will be full. Unless you major in something really weird.

Q: Can I take classes I'm interested in?

A: Don't end sentences with prepositions.

Q: Can I take classes in which I am interested?

A: Yes, and Washington University strongly encourages you to.

Q: Hey! You ended a sentence with a preposition!

A: An excellent thing to end a sentence with.

Q: Stop that!

A: Alright. Well, as I was saying, Washington University encourages you to take classes you like. The maximum number of students for most of these classes is 10.

Q: How can I get in the class, then?

A: You can't. But your advisor will still put you down for them.

Q: What if I am majoring in music and the music theory course is full?

A: Then you should major in Social Work.

Q: Can I take other music courses?

A: No, they all require the music theory course as a prerequisite.

Q: Isn't priority given to those students majoring in that subject?

A: No. A student majoring in Japanese (really SR71 409) could get into your music theory course, leaving you on the waiting list. This example has actually happened.

Q: What's the deal with this waiting list?

A: This was begun in 1965 as a comforting measure. Students began rioting and protesting that they couldn't get into any classes, so the University instituted the "waiting list." The idea was developed by a psychology professor. He found that a student would be less inclined to riot about classes if he at least got into SOMETHING. "I may not have gotten into the class, but I DID get into its waiting list! It's not so bad!" is what students are ideally supposed to think.

Q: So is there any chance I will get into the class if I'm on the waiting list?

A: The only way this could happen is if you donated a large amount of money to the professor and then attended each class. You could then get credit for it if the professor puts in a word for you. A chemistry student alumnus once donated 4.7 billion to the chemistry department (or D87), and his son was a third year chemistry major. His son was still unable to get into his chemistry class, although he was put on the waiting list. When he complained, they consoled him by naming the chemistry building after him.

This concludes Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Registering for Classes (actually X57 251M). If you have further questions, don't ask your advisor, because then you would have to leave and come back only after reading all 1683 pages of the Course Listings Book. And trust me: you don't want to.

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Last modified 7.19.2019
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