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The Graduate School, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Office of the Registrar


Automated Registration Waitlist

Automated Registration Waitlisting is a process that permits students to add their name, directly through SIS, to a list of a section of a course that has reached maximum enrollment and is closed. If a seat becomes available in the closed section, the student in the first position on the waitlist is automatically notified and given the opportunity to register for that class.

Why a Waitlist?
Academic departments and instructors have long maintained manual waitlists. Maintaining a paper waitlist can be very time consuming and difficult to manage. Manual waitlists are inefficient for staff and students. An automatic waitlist eases the burden for the staff and students are able to efficiently add themselves to a waitlist on the SIS during the registration period and can monitor their position on the list.

How was the waitlist developed?
The waitlist function has long been a feature in the Banner/SIS but was not considered for implementation until Core Engineering requested the possibility of an automated waitlist. Core Engineering has a number of courses with multiple sections and a hard constraint on those section enrollments. Manual waitlists for these sections were difficult to maintain and are ideal candidates for the automatic waitlist through SIS.

A committee was formed to discuss the concept and basic criteria established. A considerable amount of time was spent learning the functional capabilities of the feature and much testing was done to insure the feature was set up to meet the needs of the customer.

How was the waitlist feature rolled out to the user?
Once the feature was set up and tested in test banner/SIS, the first version of the waitlist was offered to a limited number of Core Engineering sections. The first version only allowed a student to sign up for a section that is closed. In subsequent semesters, the features were expanded to include signing up for the waitlist on the SIS and automatically being notified of an opening in the section. The feature is now fully automated and available for any section.

How does the waitlist work?
Students registering for classes in the SIS will receive a message stating the section is closed. If the closed section is utilizing the automatic Waitlist feature, students are given the option on the Register Add/Drop page of signing up to be put on the waitlist. The same drop down box used to drop a section from their current schedule on the Register Add/Drop page is utilized to sign up for the waitlist. The position on the waitlist is on a first come, first serve basis. If a seat becomes available in the section either from a student dropping the course or an increase in the maximum enrollment, an email is sent to the student in the first position on the waitlist announcing a seat is available. The student has 48 hours from the time the email is sent to take action. If the student does not register for the course within the 48 hour time limit, he/she is dropped from the list and an email is sent to the next student in line.

What features are available and in place for the Waitlist?
There are a number of options available in the set up of the Waitlist. These options can be altered if needed. The current options include:

  1. Waitlist enrollment – The Academic department sets the number of students eligible to sign up for the waitlist.
  2. Time Limit - At this time students are given 48 hours from the time the email is sent notifying them of an available seat and action is requested. It may be decided as the semester approaches to give the students less time to act once notified of an available seat.
  3. Pre-Requisites & Restrictions – Any pre-requisite and restriction that is in place for registration is enforced for the Waitlist. For example, if MATH 1010 is the pre-requisite for MATH 1020, students would not be able to register for MATH 1020 nor could they go on the waitlist for MATH 1020. If COMM 1510/01 is restricted to EMAC majors, only EMAC majors will be able to sign up for the Waitlist.
  4. Multiple Sections – Students are able to register for a section of a course and add their name to the waitlist for another section(s) of the same course.
  5. Course conflicts – Students can register for a course and add their name to the waitlist for another course that is in conflict with the registered course. For example, a student can register for MATH 1010 on MR at 10am and go on the waitlist for ARTS 1200 that meets on MR at 10am. If a seat in ARTS 1200 becomes available, the student will be notified and can decide at that time to either drop the registered class and take the seat in the waitlisted course or not.
  6. Waitlist Position - Students are able to see their place on the waitlist. Instructors can also view the waitlist.
  7. Closed Course Authorization Forms - In order to maintain the integrity of the waitlist, instructors cannot sign a student into closed sections using an authorization form. If a closed course authorization form is received by the Registrar for a closed section maintaining a waitlist, the student presenting the form is placed at the bottom of the waitlist.
  8. Pre-Req Override Authorization Form - An instructor can sign an authorization form to override a pre-req or restriction for a section maintaining a waitlist. If the section is closed, the student can be manually placed on the waitlist by the Registrar.

What courses should NOT use the automated Waitlist feature?
While any section is eligible to use the automated waitlist option, not all courses are good candidates to use the feature. Upper level courses needed by seniors to graduate on schedule are often not good candidates. Students are often better served if a manual waitlist is used in this instance. For example, there are a number of senior MANE courses that students need to graduate. Often a senior can’t register for the courses due to a hold on their account or some other reason. Once able to register, this student would often need to be forced into a closed section of a course in order to graduate on time. If exceptions need to be made that continually override the waitlist, use of the automatic waitlist should be discontinued. If an instructor wants more control as to who is allowed in their class, a manual waitlist should be used as the position of a student on the waitlist must be honored to maintain the integrity of the procedure. The Academic departments and the Registrar have the final say as to who is registered for a course. While maintaining the integrity of the waitlist is a prime consideration, individual situations may arise that forces us to override the waitlist.