How to Register for College Classes: 5 Essential Tips

Making a backup plan for class registration is essential, especially as a first-year or transfer student. Here's how to sign up for college classes.

portrait of Sharon Wilfong
by Sharon Wilfong

Updated June 16, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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How to Register for College Classes: 5 Essential Tips
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Class registration can be challenging, especially if you're a first-year or transfer student. For one, registering for classes that are in high demand is often competitive. And you may run into other unforeseen issues if you didn't do some research ahead of time.

Planning your college class schedule in advance with backup options can make registration day run smoother. Here are five tips on how to sign up for college classes and what to do to ensure good choices.

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Ready to start your journey?

1. Clear Any Student Account Holds

A student account hold can prevent you from registering for courses, requesting transcripts, and accessing college resources, services, and systems. A hold might also impact financial aid, scholarship opportunities, and your credit score.

Typically, a financial hold on your student account is because of an overdue balance for tuition, fees, or student loans.

Missing transcripts, academic probation, or unearned prerequisites can also cause an academic account hold. Additionally, some schools use a student account hold to obtain missing immunization records.

2. Make an Appointment With Your Advisor

All college students meet with their advisors. College advisors are there to answer your questions and help make registering for classes easier. They can assist you in choosing a major and scheduling classes across semesters.

Furthermore, your college advisor can help you find out if you qualify for priority registration and other opportunities. Advisors also know which classes to suggest as alternatives if necessary so you stay on point for graduation.

3. Choose Backup Classes

Planning ahead allows you to have a backup plan for class choices at registration. You may not always get your first pick, so having two more options is a good idea. Making a last-minute decision because your first pick is full could be an expensive mistake.

For one, dropping or withdrawing from a course can have a negative impact on financial aid eligibility. And taking a class that isn't part of your program can have consequences.

4. Meet the Professor

It's a good idea to reach out to your professors before registration in case the class fills quickly. Ask questions to show your interest in the subject and learn more about classwork and expectations.

If the class is full, let the professor know the class meets a program requirement. Professors can typically add students to their classes at their discretion. They may be more likely to add you if they know you, especially if the course fulfills a requirement.

5. Get Up Before Registration

Your enrollment appointment is an allotted registration timeframe to add, drop, or swap classes. Get up early on the day of registration to give yourself time to get logged into the college's student administration system. Keep your backup plan on hand in case your first picks fill up.

You may be able to save courses prior to your registration time to make the process smoother. After you register, double-check your class schedule and take note of add/drop deadlines.

Frequently Asked Questions About Registering for College Classes

What is priority registration?

Priority registration gives eligible college students early access to register for courses. This accommodation is typically for students with disabilities, veterans, and other special groups of students. Priority registration usually doesn't exempt the student from other course requirements like prerequisites and class enrollment limits.

In part, the time allows arranging for accommodations such as sign language interpreters or audio textbooks. Additionally, early registration gives students an opportunity to arrange a schedule suitable to their needs.

What are course exemptions?

A course exemption waives a class based on credit from another course, recognized prior learning, or work experience. Course exemptions or transfer credits are awards of academic credit signifying that previous coursework meets transfer credit requirements. It means that you can get class credit without taking the exempted course.

Typically, colleges need official documentation. Sometimes, a program may require an exam to verify your knowledge or skills. An alternative course might be necessary to meet graduation requirements.

Are there fees for course registration?

Some courses do charge additional fees because of the expense of instructional or laboratory costs. But, in general, tuition and fees for course registration are inclusive, so most course fees are already accounted for in the tuition. However, dropping a course with a course fee may mean having to pay fees anyway.

Ultimately, any adjustment to your class schedule could result in extra charges for course registration. You can often avoid these fees by dropping a class within the defined deadline.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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