How do I shrug off the label “WAIT-LISTED”?

I have an exam in 3.5 hours. Any coherent statements I make will have something to do to with the fundamental principles of justice, the prosecution process or police discretion. Turning off the criminal law in my brain seems impossible, so in an attempt to go with the flow and stick by the principle of fairness, I turn to the issue of wait lists on ROSI. This year (and this may be, in part, because I am a third-year student) all of my courses are half-credits. This means that I have a bit of flexibility in between semesters to change my courses. I think this flexibility is crucial in the later years of your undergraduate degree, particularly since you are short on time to fulfill program requirements, distribution requirements and prerequisites. When I talk to program directors, most of them assume that if I am changing my courses in between semesters, it means I didn't plan properly over the summer. In fact, quite the contrary: I'm the kid who takes three days straight to look through the entire calendar and who has her schedule completely planned out before registration even opens. When I signed up for my courses in the summer, I was immediately put on the wait list, detailing my troubles on Cynthia's awesome post:
Cynthia, you are so lucky. I signed on at exactly 11:22, and was promptly slapped on the wrist by ROSI, telling me I dare not try to sign on again, until my designated time of 11:25. At that point, the first, second, fourth and fifth courses I entered, I was put on a wait list…and I’m still there ( Ever so sad, as I realize, I am doomed to live the life of those dreaded, anxious “WAIT-LISTED” students!
The wait-listing problem doesn't end after the summer; in fact, it can extend into your second-semester courses. Often, students become familiar with professors in the first semester, and because they enjoy being in their classes, hope to move to another class with the same prof for the next term. Other times, getting off the wait list for one course can cause a timing conflict, which forces you to delete the conflicting course and look for another course, putting you on the wait list again. In addition, because many of your courses are half-credits, you have the flexibility to discover what courses interest you and modify your following semester's schedule accordingly. The point is, many students change courses for great reasons, not necessarily poor planning. I've tried to figure out why wait lists are in place. In response to the question, why not raise the cap on class enrolment, a number of professors have mentioned that class size is determined by the room capacity. I like the honesty, and I see the point: you can't squish 100 students in a classroom meant for 60. Its a fire hazard, if nothing else! But as a good friend pointed out to me, you shouldn't have to pay to take courses you really don't want to take, especially if the course you want is restricting you solely because you are a fire hazard. Not only are you jeopardizing your education, your GPA and your degree by "settling" and taking courses you don't like, but it is a waste of your money. It is quite unfair. In an institution of higher learning, such as the wonderful University of Toronto, I think there must be a viable solution (like moving the class to a larger classroom?). In many cases, the University doesn't really know what's going to be popular until the courses fill up, but I think there must be some way to take wait lists into consideration, even after the fact. If you are on a wait list (as I am), or multiple wait lists (as I am), then my utopian ideals aren't helping you much. The problem is, I don't really have a solution for you. After extensive research, I'm always directed to another person — the professor, the registrar's office, the program director… You should take the time to plan your degree, but I think there is not enough support when those plans don't turn out exactly as you'd like. So here is something a little different: I am am appealing to my knowledgeable fellow students for advice. How can we solve this problem of wait lists? Any ideas? - Fariya

4 comments on “How do I shrug off the label “WAIT-LISTED”?

  1. Idea?

    Get the Registrar’s Office to look at the wait listed data from the previous years. Courses that have had absurb waitlists (hopefully they have data that tracks the initial ROSI enrollment with all the waitlisted students before they “settled” on something else) should be paid particular attention to. They may want to consider finding a different venue for that class, or finding other solutions to deal with that course for the upcoming enrollment/term.

    Current program enrollment (that have that course listed as mandatory), term (fall/winter), course details (1st-, 2nd-, etc. year course) and other finer things should be taken into consideration as well…

    I don’t think there’s a fast solution to this, but if they gave it the attention it deserved then maaayybbeee… they can cut the amount of waitlisted students (>1000?) down to… a decent Facebook Common Interest group size (no offense intended).

    Good luck with your exams!

  2. To be honest I have lost all hope in U of T. It seems to me that us students will never be the administration’s priority. This year alone I was on a wait list that had reached some 40+ students and this was nearing the date on which the infamous list is removed. So basically you wait forever to inch down the list and then it is removed. After which I didn’t even bother because the thought of having to compete with 40+ other students to get into a course was absurd. The registrar has access to all these numbers and considering the amount of money U of T takes from students, they should hire someone to monitor these numbers. I mean its not like there is a shortage of rooms; how many empty rooms do you see walking down the halls? I see a lot of large spare lecture halls on a daily basis and wonder why they are not put to use. This negligence on behalf of the administration is really unjust; students pay to take courses therefore the registrar should keep their end of the bargain by making sure said courses are available. After all, it is part of the administrations job, not the students, to make sure courses are available.

  3. @ Jovian – great idea! If students can take a look at data from previous years, they can be well prepared to anticipate waitlists for certain courses.

    @ Krista – I totally agree. I see a lot of classrooms empty and many times, the university should be aware of courses that have waitlists year after year. It is really a problem for upper year students who are aiming for good marks in a limited number of available courses. And what you said is true – U of T students are willing to fork up $500 for one, half-credit and in exchange, we want to talk a course we are really interested in. Being told the classroom size is too small is frustrating, upsetting, and unjust.

  4. @ Jovian and Krista, and other readers

    I can’t remember whether a friend said this occurs at his university or that it should… Anyways, basically the students sign up for their courses online. The first time slot and Professor for a class are predetermined. Once the class is filled, if there are more than 15 students on the waitlist, the program automatically opens up a new time slot for the same class. In essence the overspill continues until all the students who sign up have a reasonable opportunity to get into the course that they want. After the time slots are closed, THEN the professors are assigned their classes – which I think is fantastic. I’m not sure about the current system where students should try to squish themselves into a class that only one professor teachers. And I wouldn’t even mind that so much, if there was enough space to accommodate everyone…

    I guess the fear is we compromise our education by dictating our choices according to what courses we can get into rather than what is really crucial to our learning.

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