Frequently Asked Questions about Waitlists

What's a waitlist? 
Each class has a set capacity or maximum number of students who can be accommodated in the course.  When enough students register into the course so that all those spaces are taken, the next student who attempts to register will be denied registration.  In most courses, the student can then ask ISIS to waitlist them instead of registering them.   The waitlist is simply a list of students who'd like to get into the course but couldn't fit into the maximum capacity currently allowed for that course.

How do I put myself onto a waitlist?
Select "Registration" in ISIS and then "Search and Register for Classes".   Select the class you want and then, from the Actions pulldown, select "Waitlist" instead of "Register".

Does it matter whether I'm #1 on the waitlist vs #20?
Sometimes.   Generally, having a lower number on the waitlist (#1) is more advantageous than a higher number, because faculty often use position on the waitlist in making decisions at the start of the semester about which student on the waitlist to invite into the course if a space opens up. However, position is not the only factor your instructor may consider. He or she may also consider class year or other dimensions like the balance of students in the course,

What are my chances of getting into the course?
It's hard to determine, at the outset.  They may well be better than you think, even if you have a high waitlist number, though you may well have to wait until or beyond the first meeting of the class in the fall to know for sure.   First, note that many students -- of all class years -- will adjust their schedules just before or during the first week of the semester.  Upperclass students return to the campus with schedule changes in mind; new students adjust their plans after meeting with advisors and other faculty during orientation.  All of these changes result in considerable course movement at the beginning of each term, with students dropping courses and faculty then able to offer those available seats to other waitlisted students.  Also, departments are sometimes (though not always) able to open new course sections and create a whole batch of new spaces.   So, please don't hesitate to put yourself on the waitlist for a class you would truly prefer over a class currently on your schedule.

How many waitlists can I put myself on?
There's no formal limit but, out of consideration for yourself and others, limit yourself to only a few -- at maximum, say, four academic classes plus a couple of PE classes.  Faculty will expect that students on their waitlists sincerely want to get into their classes and will move quickly to drop other options if offered a place in their courses.  Don't put yourself on a large number of waitlists.   And drop yourself from any waitlists you're on if you're no longer interested in them.

How can I drop myself from a waitlist?
You can see what waitlists you are on by logging into ISIS, selecting “Registration” and then “Manage Waitlist”.  If you want to drop yourself from a waitlist because you are no longer interested in admission to that course, select the “Remove” Action next to that class and press the Submit button.

Can I put myself on a waitlist if I don't meet the course prerequisites?  
No.  Just as if you were registering for the course, you must have met any eligibility criteria for the course (class year restriction or specific courses already taken or currently underway) before ISIS will allow you to put yourself on a waitlist.

Besides putting myself on the waitlist in ISIS, what else can/should I do to try to get into the course? 
Our recommendation is: nothing, until the start of Add/Drop just before the semester begins. The instructor may write to all the students on the waitlist just before school starts with specific instructions.  If so, follow those instructions.  If not, it's a good idea to write to the instructor via email in that last week of August or middle of January, to reiterate your interest and then be SURE to attend the first meeting of the class.   If you are a new student, it's also important to discuss your waitlist prospects with your advisor during Orientation and, in September, to attend the Academic Fair and consult with the representatives from that department.

How will I know if I get off the waitlist and into the course?
Promotion from any waitlist into registered status in the course isn't automatic. The instructor will tell the Registrar's Office whom to admit from the waitlist into the course.  If it's you, the Registrar's Office will then attempt to register you for the course.  If we can register you without impediments (i.e., there's room in your schedule for the course -- no time conflicts with your other courses and room within your credit limit for the course, you don't have registration holds, and you still meet all course prerequisites), we'll register you within a business day and ISIS will notify you late that night that your schedule has been updated.  If we run into impediments, we'll email you and expect you to clear the impediments within two days.   As these notifications happen through email, it is VITAL that you read your MHC email at least daily during the week before and the two weeks after the start of classes.

What’s the deadline for getting onto a waitlist? 
ISIS would still let you add yourself to a waitlist as late as the Add deadline (about two weeks into the start of semester).  But, if adding yourself onto a waitlist after the semester has started, you should definitely contact the instructor first.  Faculty expect that students will not join a class already underway without consulting them.

What’s the deadline for moving off a waitlist into the course? 
Technically, the deadline is the last day to add courses (about two weeks into the start of semester; check the Academic Calendar for the particulars).   But most faculty make their decisions about waitlists within the first few class meetings, so you should consult with your instructor if that deadline is approaching and you're still on the waitlist.

What if the Add deadline is approaching and I'm still on the waitlist?
If you've been told by the instructor that you have been admitted from the waitlist into the course and yet ISIS is still showing you on the waitlist, first check with the instructor to make sure she or he has actually submitted a request, through ISIS, for you to be moved from the waitlist into the course.  At the start of each semester, it may take one full business day for the Registrar's Office to respond to that request.  We receive hundreds of requests every day and handle them in order received, as quickly as we can.   If your professor has NOT submitted a request yet, that is the next step.  If s/he has and it was more than a full business day ago, double-check your schedule on ISIS to confirm you're still on the waitlist and check your Mount Holyoke email to see if we've written to you.   If no, you should inquire at the Registrar's Office.  If the Add deadline is approaching and you're still on the waitlist, YOU -- not your professor -- need to make sure everything is resolved and you are off the waitlist and added to the course by the Add deadline.

Why does ISIS sometimes show zero seats available when enrollment in the course is lower than capacity?
When a seat opens in a course because a registered student drops it, ISIS doesn’t automatically promote anyone from the waitlist to fill it.  We wait to hear from the instructor which student should be moved from the waitlist into that empty seat. While we wait, that seat is empty, but not available to other students.  ISIS is protecting it, so that the waitlist will not be bypassed.

While I’m on the waitlist, how can I get access to the ella course site? 
At the start of the semester, everyone on the waitlist will automatically have temporary access to the course’s ella site (if it has one!).  This will allow you to begin the work of the course, if you have the instructor’s permission to do so.  However, at the end of add/drop, all students still on the waitlist are dropped and will lose access to the ella site; by then, you should either be registered in the course or have stopped participating in it.