What to Do if a College Class Is Full

Follow These 6 Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting In

Professor guiding his student
Purestock/Getty Images

The class you need to take to make progress toward your degree has already filled up. You have to get in, but what can you do if there's no room when you register? While this situation is incredibly frustrating (and all too common), there are a few steps you can take to either get into the class or find an alternate solution.

6 Steps to Take Next When a College Class Is Full

  1. Get on the waitlist as soon as possible. You can often do this at registration and the sooner you get on the list, the higher your ranking will be.
  2. Talk to the professor. Do you need the class for graduation? Are there other circumstances that might help you plead your case? Talk to the professors during their office hours to see if there's anything that can be done.
  3. Talk to the registrar. If you desperately need to get into a class for graduation or financial reasons, talk to the registrar's office. They might be able to make an exception if the professor also approves letting you into the class.
  4. Explore other options and alternatives. Sign up for at least one other class that you can take in place of your desired class, just in case you can't get in. The last thing you need is to be blocked out from all of the good classes because you thought you'd get into your wait-listed one.
  5. Have a backup plan ready to go if you can't get in. Can you take the same course online? With another professor? At another campus nearby? Over the summer? Being creative about your options can help you find a solution in case your original plan doesn't work out.

    Most Importantly, Don't Panic

    It may seem like the end of the world, but rest assured that it's not. When you discover that one of your most essential course requirements is full, sit down and take a deep breath.

    1. Review your options. Read through the advice given above one more time because you may have missed an important detail that can help. 
    2. Get out your notebook and make a to-do list. Writing down the steps you need to take, the exact people you need to talk to, and your points for why you should be in that class will help clear your head.
    3. Go out and pursue it. Take the action needed to put your plan in place and work each of these steps simultaneously. If one approach backfires, you will already have the others in progress or know what you need to do to start the next one.
    4. Be professional. Whoever you speak (or plead) with to try and get in that class, do so in an adult manner. It's very easy to be overly emotional when you're frustrated, but that's not the best approach to sweet talking professors and registrars. Whining will not get you anywhere, pleading your case with facts and a professional demeanor will.