Skip to main content

Class Registration at Carleton

McKenna discusses class registration at Carleton, with examples from her personal experience of when she got off the waitlist and when she didn't.

McKenna discusses class registration at Carleton, with examples from her personal experience of when she got off the waitlist and when she didn't.


I had questions as a prospective student about class registration. Specifically, would I actually be able to take the classes I’d spent hours finding? I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that, yes, classes do eventually fill up. But I’ve yet to come out of registration at Carleton with a schedule that’s less than what I desired.

I’m pretty sure that the mechanics of registering for classes at Carleton aren’t unique. It can be a little stressful, especially if the class is a particularly popular one. I guess that may also come as no surprise, given that Carleton has really small classes.

Professors want students in their classes and will do whatever they can to make that happen.

Even if you can’t register for the class immediately, you can often still get in. Put yourself on the waitlist. I’d also recommend that you email the professor to ask about coming to the first class. Usually, a few people won’t show up for that and you can talk to the professor afterward to get a spot. If there’s a reason you need to take the class (maybe it’s a major requirement) the professor will almost certainly help you out.

Sometimes, the professor will give me a spot in the class the next day, just because I emailed. Even if it’s not immediate, I’ll often get off the waitlist before term starts even without emailing. If it’s possible, professors will also expand the size of the class to include people on the waitlist.

I’ve experienced this firsthand.

Fairy Makeup
One of the projects from that class.

In spring term of my freshman year, I really wanted to take a class called Makeup Design on Mondays and Wednesdays. My junior theater major friend told me it would be hard to get in, so I didn’t email or go to the first class. I figured I had three more years to try to take it.

To my surprise, I got an email from the Registrar on Tuesday night at 5pm saying I had a spot in the class! I registered immediately and, because I was already in the Weitz near the professor’s office, stopped in to talk to her. I caught up very quickly and had a great time in that class!

Even if you don’t get the class you thought you wanted, don’t panic.

When registering for my second term at Carleton, I watched an awesome Psychology class fill up. As I looked for a different class, I found an equally excellent class that worked with my schedule. That class became one of my favorites and that professor is now my major advisor!

After that experience, I learned to keep a list of lots of alternatives. My advisor, at one point, stopped writing down what I was considering taking because I listed at least eight options. This strategy has ended up being a great way for me to approach registration. It’s enabled me to explore a wider variety of academic interests.

With the exception of my language classes, I never repeated a department during my freshman year. Even with these new departments, I was always satisfied with my schedule. The challenges that come along with registration encouraged me to explore outside my comfort zone; I’ve become more well-rounded because of it.


McKenna is a Russian and Psychology double major who is suffering from major Minnesota-withdrawal (her favorite season is, in fact, winter). On campus, she’s often designing lights for a student performance, speaking Russian in Parish house, or grabbing a meal with friends. She’s also a proud member of the Carleton Equestrian Team and is currently playing Witcher 3: Wild Hunt in her free time. Meet the other bloggers!