Archive for October 25th, 2008



A nice useful sign.

A nice useful sign.

Every school has their own system to register classes. At my school, the University of California Santa Barbara, the system is online and has been recreated since I started here. In principle it works well, you are given three time slots in which you can add or drop classes. The first one allows you to sign up for only 13.5 units (the average is 15 a quarter), the second pass is for the rest of the classes and the third pass is during the actual quarter for dropping classes and the like.

The actual pass time is very important, especially the first one. They are assigned based on a mixture of units completed, class standing and several other factors. The one affecting me is the honor’s program. The reason I joined the honor’s program was to gain priority registration to get all of the classes I need. My pass time for next winter was this morning while my roommate, another senior, has his three days from now.

The priority registration was more important in my freshman and sophomore years (my third was abroad so it had no effect) when I was signing up for non-physics courses either for fun or for General Education requirements. During these two years it was a real possibility to not get a class or get it at an awkward time (8 am sections did not fill up fast).

Now that I am a senior all of my classes are within the Physics department (aside from one GE left) so I do not have the luxury of considering alternative schedules. All of my classes fit together with little room for schedule choices. Also I have never worried about physics classes filling up, aside from lab sections (6pm-9pm labs are not ideal). If they did fill up it is easy to request an add code (special departmental permission to join a full class) to get into the class anyway.

I have only encountered one glitch in the entire registration system — prerequisites. I started with almost a full year of course credit from AP tests and this year I do have a complete year of physics course credit from studying abroad. This credit counted for a lot of the prerequisites for other classes. For example my Calculus AP test let me skip two quarters of math. The problem is that while I have credit for these classes GOLD does not recognize them as the actual prerequisite. Since I took a version of, say, Physics 100A abroad, when I signed up for a lab class today that required it would not let me. The same thing has happened a couple times in the past and I have even lost my ideal lab section (it always seems to be labs).

Fortunately I have found a way to cheat the registration system to get these classes. For almost all classes the prerequisite can be taken concurrently. So by signing up for the prerequisite that is needed in the same quarter it lets you sign up for the class you want. Now instead of keeping the prerequisite you can just drop it and have the ideal class remain. Since there is a 13.5 unit cap on the first pass time this does require some planning as at least four free units are needed to do the swap.

This morning I went to sign up for the physics senior lab course. It required that I take Physics 115A Quantum Mechanics. I am in 115C right now and did 115A abroad. I thought that I had petitioned for course credit but it looks like it did not go through. So I went to sign up for 115A to do my trick of swapping classes. I could not. 115A required 100A which I also took abroad. So I had to sign up for Math 124A (100A alternative since 100A is not offered this quarter), then 115A and finally my lab class. Then I went and dropped 124A and 115A which left with my just my lab class as I originally wanted.

While each school has their own registration system, some may not even be online yet, I am sure this workaround can be used on other online registration systems.

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