What happens if a student is not able to get a seat in a course?

Every student has the ability to register for a complete schedule of courses by the time the semester begins. There are courses available for every student, although we are not able to guarantee that students will get into the exact course at the exact time in the exact semester of their choosing.

To ensure fairness, students register on a schedule that rotates semester by semester. There are eight letter groups and across an eight semester student career, an individual student will register in each one of the eight spots. i.e., they will register first once, last once, and every position in between once.

You may view the current Registration Schedule here.

A student may help themselves by responding promptly to general communications about registration and to specific communications from their academic advisor(s), by planning their schedule ahead of their registration window, and by being proactive. You can help your student by asking them specific questions about how they are approaching registration.

For continuing students, pre-registration for the Fall semester takes place in April, and pre-registration for the Spring takes place in November. If a student is unable to register, please have them check this page first and then, if that does not answer their question, have them call or e-mail the Office of the Registrar.

Sometimes, a student is unable to register for a specific class the first time around. This is frustrating, but it almost always works out in the student’s favor in the end. If this happens, please encourage your student to take the following steps.

  • Don’t panic. Everyone gets courses in the end.
  • Is there an alternate time for a different section of the course? If so, the student should register for it.
  • Speak with the faculty member teaching the class. In person is often preferable to e-mail. Ask if there is a waiting list, how students will be taken off the waiting list and put into the course, and if the student can be added to the list.
  • In that same conversation, ask if there are alternative courses that the student should consider. Often there are multiple, equally good paths to the same result.

Demanding that a student be given access to a course, having a parent or guardian call to demand that a student gets access, or e-mailing an administrator is not going to work. The only person who can let a student into a closed class is the faculty member teaching the course and they often have sound, education-based reasons for setting firm caps on their course enrollments.

Sometimes, there are seats being saved in that course for a specific purpose — perhaps for majors who need the course to graduate, or for new, first-year students who register after every continuing student. There is always an add/drop period before the new semester begins when faculty can use Add Cards to sign students into courses. Again, encourage your student to not panic!

Allegheny faculty are extraordinarily generous in finding ways for interested students to take their courses. It is not always immediate, but we are not in the business of denying a student access to classes that they need.