1. Resist making excuses.
It’s an early, important lesson for you in college: Professors care about you, but don’t care for excuses. Profs move to solve problems, so your excuses will just take time away necessary problem solving. Don’t say, “I didn’t register because…” The reasons don’t matter. Bottom line: You need/want the class, so focus on what to do to get in (and read on…).
2. Ask about the purge.
Get in touch with someone in the Registrar’s office and ask, “When do you purge students for nonpayment?” Different colleges manage this in different ways, but often, students on wait list are then moved into the class when existing students don’t pay. Here’s the thing: I can’t tell you how many students on wait list decide they no longer want to be there. This means on the date of the nonpayment purge, you may find openings where there were none previously.
3. E-mail the professor before going to his/her office.
Certainly, you can show up in the prof’s office and beg to be added, but there is likely nothing that the prof can do until the actual first day of class. It’s fine to e-mail the prof instead and say, “I am interested in getting into your CMST 101 class. Should I come to your office to discuss this? Do you have any advice on how students typically get into your class if it is full?”
3. Actually go to the class.
When students come to my office and ask me to sign an add/drop form, I often tell them come to the first class. I have no idea who is actually going to fill the seats and I’m far more likely to sign a student in, even on overload, if I can see the actual number of students seated in front of me. At my college, the wait list shuts down on the first day of class. Therefore, if a student shows up in person, their chances of getting in are far better. So, introduce yourself to the prof after the class ends and say, “I am not enrolled in this class right now but thought I’d come to see if there is room. Is it possible for me to stay in this class?”
4. Stay in touch with the prof.
For my online or hybrid classes (that start on a Wednesday night, usually), I will ask students asking to get in to e-mail me on the first, second, and third day of class so I can watch the roster numbers for changes. With distance education classes, I can’t physically see if a student is going to participate, so I have to wait until day three (or when the introductory post is due) to find out. For the want-to-be enrolled students e-mailing every day and checking in, they have first dibs on space if one comes available. Ask the prof, “Is it all right if I stay in touch with you for a few days to see if the numbers change?”