Course Enrollment Strategies

Advice on getting into courses and how the Political Science Department handles its course enrollments. Other departments may do things differently.

  • Q: Will declaring the Poli Sci major help me enroll in Poli Sci classes?
    A: Yes!! During Phase I, all upper-division PoliSci courses are restricted to declared PoliSci majors. In Phase II, the restrictions are lifted and anyone may enroll, as space permits. It is crucial to declare the major no later than March of your sophomore year so that taking two upper division Poli Sci courses each semester will keep you on track to graduate on time, as Poli Sci majors cannot sign up for more than two upper division Poli Sci courses in Phase 1, per department policy. 

  • Q: I am not a declared PoliSci major. What's the best way to enroll in an upper division PoliSci course that I need to complete my major?
    A: While it's true that you won't be able to directly enroll in upper division PoliSci courses in Phase I unless you are declared in the major, you are welcomed to wait list for upper division PoliSci courses in Phase I. The department attempts to enroll as many students off the wait list as possible before Phase II begins, as space permits.
    With that said, if you are declared in another major, it's imperative that you talk to your major adviser to find out what alternative courses you can take to satisfy the requirement. Having a back-up course is vital to ensure you continue to make progress towards completing your major. For undeclared intended Political Science majors, get declared just as soon as you can! It will only benefit you as you pursue upper division courses in the major. Take a look at the following page of our web site for the eligibility requirements to declare, the dates and times of the upcoming declaration sessions and what you need to bring with you to the session.

  • Q: I'm number 20 on the Waiting List. What are my chances of getting in?
    A: Many students are admitted from wait lists, so if you really want a class, hang in there, but please have a back-up course just in case. If a class is full, the only way to be moved in off the wait list is if other students drop. A lot depends on the size of the course. Also, for classes with discussion sections, your number on the section wait list is more important that your number on the overall class wait list. When scanning for people to enroll in the lecture, the computer will skip over the people wait listed for full discussion sections. So, if you are # 20 on the lecture waiting list and waitlisted for a discussion section that has an open space, you will be the first person chosen if numbers 1-19 are waitlisted for full discussion sections. After the third week of class, the computer no longer automatically adds people from wait lists - the instructors manually decide who gets in, if space is available. At that point, for classes with discussion sections, getting in rests upon your being admitted into a discussion section. Until then, the question is: Should you hold out for the preferred discussion section (and risk not getting into the class) or enroll in an undesirable section (which will get you in the class) that you may be stuck with? Only you can decide. Once underway, some classes post Switch Lists for people wanting to change sections, if that helps.

  • Q: The On-line Schedule of Classes says there are seats available in a course, but when I try, it tells me it's full. Why?
    A: Once a class is full, it stays that way even if students drop out. The vacated seats are held for people on the Waiting List. Wait Lists are run every weekend starting with Phase I and then nightly during the Adjustment Period, which begins the week before classes begin.

  • Q: CalCentral says I do not meet the departmental restriction. What does that mean?
    A: Some courses hold seats for different categories of students (sometimes by major or class level) for various reasons. These restrictions sometimes disappear after Phase I or Phase II. Until then, your best bet is to get on the waiting list and check the PoliSci course website or the online Schedule of Classes for updates.

  • Q: Did I get a late appointment date because I'm not declared?
    A: No. Appointment dates are determined by class level, not major status. Within a class level, dates are assigned randomly.

  • Q: What should I do if I'm not in a class by the time classes start?
    A: Get on Waiting Lists and be sure to go to the first class meetings. There are usually several no-shows in the first two weeks of class. Most PoliSci undergraduate courses have automatic wait lists the first three weeks of class, which means that students are enrolled sequentially off the wait list as space becomes available. However, check the online Schedule of Classes and/or ask your instructor (or GSI) on how your particular course wait list is going to be processed.

    Please note that unless students drop from a full course, there is no way to be moved off the wait list. It may appear that a course has open spaces when the course is actually full. There are several factors that determine the enrollment limit of a course, not just the room size (i.e. GSI availability). If a course meets in a room that can seat 75 students, but the enrollment limit is set to 54, the limit is 54. Unfortunately, 21 extra students cannot be added to the class.

  • Q: I'm way down on the Waiting List for a course I don't want anyway. I don't need to drop it, do I?
    A: Play it safe and drop classes you don't want, even if you're only on the Waiting List. 

  • Q: If the instructor says I'm in the class, do I need to do anything?
    A: Yes! Sometimes they forget or are unable to manually add you. So check! Be sure you are enrolled by the end of the fifth week, or you will not be able to add it after that. If the deadline looms and you have not yet been enrolled, remind your instructor about your impending deadline.

  • Q: If I don't go to the first day of class, I'll automatically be dropped, right?
    A: Some instructors drop any student who misses a class the first two weeks, and some don't. Play it safe - if you don't want the course, drop it yourself. Check your schedule every so often but absolutely before the fifth week drop deadline. Remember, you may NOT drop or add courses after the end of the fifth week! If you're enrolled in a course you are not attending, you'll get an F.

  • Q: When's the last day I can use CalCentral to add, drop, or change the grading option myself?
    A: To add, drop, change the units (on variable unit courses), or to change from a P/NP to a letter grade: the deadline is the end of the fifth week of the semester. To change a grade from a letter grade to P/NP (only in that direction) the deadline is the end of the tenth week of the semester. Note: If you are enrolled in any Early Drop Deadline Courses, your deadline to drop is the end of the second week. There are no Political Science courses on the Early Drop Deadline list, but you might be enrolled in one from another department, so check the Registrar's website for an up-to-date list: (external link).

  • Q: When's the last day to add or drop a course without paying a fee?
    A: The end of the second week of the semester to drop, the end of the third week to add. After those deadlines, dropping costs $10/course, adding costs $5/course.

  • Q: What happens if I'm not enrolled in ANYTHING by the end of the third week of the semester?
    A: If you are a continuing student, you'll have to use a Petition for Late Enrollment, get the instructor's signature for each course, and you will be charged a $150 late enrollment fee. Ouch!

  • Q: How can I improve my karma, avoid fees, long lines, contribute to the smooth functioning of the system, and help my undergraduate advisers maintain their sanity?
    A: Easy! Do as much as you can yourself on CalCentral. Get your schedule straight by the end of the 3rd week. Make someone on the Waiting List happy! Drop courses you know you don't want. Do a good deed and make life easier for yourself at the same time. The Universe thanks you.