Sunday, August 24, 2014
If a spot opens before the semester begins, the student at the front of the waitlist gets an email and has 24 hours to respond to accept their spot. If they don't, they lose their priority.
When the semester begins, if there are empty spots in the class, students who show up on the first day and are on the electronic waitlist are prioritized first (in their order on the waitlist). Then if there is additional space, it's given out to the other random students who show up on the first day.
Also, students may only register for one section of a class, and this includes being on a waitlist. So we don't have the problem of students signing up for lots of classes that they don't intend on taking.
The problem we do have, though, is that this creates volatility in the number of credits a student is signed up for at the start of the semester, which impacts and/or delays financial aid. But we'd have the same problem if student didn't have a waitlist and still waited until the first day of the semester to sign up, so I don't see this as any worse.
At the community college, there are generally so many no shows and drops in the first two weeks, that students who are on the wait list and show up for the first two weeks of class generally get in (except in lab and studio classes).
Having a system where students have to spend all their time checking for openings in classes is really quite unfair to the working students (who are the majority at our community college).
Has anyone studied the success rate of students who try to register too late and end up on a waitlist?
Does actually showing up for class on the first day decrease the chance that they are similar to other students who are late (or really late) getting around to registering for classes? I can see where that is a possibility.
That said, I have to wonder how schools that do this handle the over capacity students. What if a registered student can't get a seat because the room is filled with kids hoping to get in? Are there registered students who don't get a syllabus?
1. You can only waitlist two sections (total) at a time.
2. You can't waitlist a section of a course that you are already in. If you are in English Comp, you can't waitlist English Comp.
3. You can't waitlist two of the same thing. So if you are on the waitlist for American History at 10am, you can't also get on the waitlist for American History at 11am.
4. Once a spot opens, you are automatically enrolled in the class.
(Feature 4 was kind of awesome there for a while, as if you withdrew from the institution, the database call cleared out your enrolled schedule but not your waitlist sections. And then the "automatic enroll" feature was coded in such a way that it didn't check anything when it enrolled you. And if this happened after the "make sure everyone paid" database purge went through, you could be re-enrolled in school without your knowledge.)
None of this solves the financial aid issue, but as with most things it's a trade-off.
Amusingly, the largest university in the country with some 45-50k students, uses waitlists extensively. You are limited to the number of courses in which you can enrol but I believe you can add a lot of others to the waitlist. I have seen waiting lists running well over a hundred names for a course, and there is apparently a lot of churn-through.
Using waitlists doesn't end the practice of seat-selling where students make private arrangements after the waiting list period ends to sell their seats. (Apparently this is engineered by the seller dropping the course while the buyer is online in the registration system to immediately take advantage of the free space.)