A love letter to course registration

Just kidding, let me tell you why it sucks


Ethan Rodriguez

Aaron Nataline expresses his dismay at the course registration process.

Aaron Nataline, Sports Editor

Many Wake Forest students claim that housing registration is the worst time of the school year. Sure, friendships fall apart and double-crossings peak to “Survivor” levels, but I think course registration takes the cake on this one. I’m fairly certain that each time I have pressed that “Plan Ahead” button on the registration portal, I have suffered an existential crisis. 

Some people switch career paths after experiencing a spiritual epiphany while listening to an esteemed guest speaker or traveling across the world alone.

When my plans change, the process resembles one of those scenes in a cartoon where the characters desperately change tracks in a handcar — I’m thinking of “Hoodwinked!” here — and it’s based on silly messages like “TIME CONFLICT!” and “COURSE FULL!”

After processing the trauma I experienced after not getting into a single class I wanted for the spring semester of my freshman year, I just wish I had been warned. While I have really loved all my academic advisors, their optimism could be considered a little misleading. Although my course requirements will still be fulfilled in four years, what would have gone a long way for my freshman self would have been an academic adviser telling me that I would be lucky to get a single course on my newest plan. 

Now keep in mind, I’m a humanities major with a double minor. I think if I decided to double major, I would most likely be raising a family in Deacon Place in six years — and still not have HES 100 fulfilled. 

With how difficult it was to get into desirable classes, I ended up not taking a single course toward my major or either of my minors during freshman year. I spent 2021 taking divisionals and language requirements galore. At the pace I was being passed around different academic buildings, I should have been putting up Lilting Banshees posters. 

I think if I decided to double major, I would most likely be raising a family in Deacon Place in six years — and still not have HES 100 fulfilled.

This struggle evolved into what I like to call the “WIN Hates You Paradox,” which began with the courses left by my registration time being unable to help me graduate in any way. Thus, I would call it quits at 13 or 14 hours — because taking FYS 101: Watching Paint Dry didn’t interest me as a second first-year seminar — and I would be punished for it during the next registration cycle. My lack of hours earned me later and later registration times, during which fewer and fewer useful courses would remain. 

But as you get older, there’s a way around this. Declaring your major obviously pays crucial dividends. Along with pre-registration, once students declare, their major advisor will send them lists of all available courses for the next semester. All students should be eligible for these emails because staring at the registration portal’s presentation of available classes feels like gawking at an unfinished crossword. For some departments, these cheat sheets are available online, but increased accessibility couldn’t hurt anybody.

But before we continue, let me tell you about my worst experience. I dropped one class — for which I had already registered — to see if another section would work better, but it didn’t. But when I tried to add the original class, the website let me know that the remaining seats were reserved for freshmen. There was literally the same number of spots still open as when I had dropped it.  I had to cut loose another class to make a new section fit. I also maturely screamed at the top of my lungs. 

Now if you’re a course registration wizard, you know I made the mistake of not using the conditional add/drop button. Although I’d argue it’s for nerds anyway, I will admit that I made an oopsie — but we all make oopsies! My efforts to correct this were truly sincere, for I sent a passionate, yet polite email to the original section’s professor about my situation. I was then deeply humbled.

None of these qualms with registration is any professor’s fault. I genuinely believe we have great faculty, but I also believe that people are lying when they say emailing professors can help a student sneak into a full class. I am 0-3 on this front, quite literally tossing bricks out on the court. 

But here’s the thing: I don’t need those bricks because I am not trying to build anything. I am not an engineering major. Part of my frustration may be traceable to the fact that some of my closest friends are engineering majors, and they simply can’t understand. Nobody wants to take their god-forsaken classes anyway, so course registration is a breeze for them. They even get cute little four-year plans in their freshman year — it’s a whole assignment — and I would love it if more departments offered this to potential majors. 

The thing is, I’m not even one of those unlucky students who were given the wrong WIN pin ahead of registration — I will always pray for them. But all I’m saying is that a “Bottom Line, Up Front” email on registration simply would have been incredible for my mental health. It probably would have kept me from spending three hours on a registration plan a week ahead of my time for freshman spring classes. Maybe it’s not as necessary for us humanities majors and our comparatively flexible requirements, but I know I would have more hair on my head today if I was walked through a four-year plan during my freshman year.