How to petition to get into a college class

empty auditorium chairsIf too many students are signed up for the class: Try to visit or email the professor before the class starts. Explain why you are interested in this class and you need to take it at that particular time. Be honest about why you need to take it. Some examples are: this class is for my major, this is a prerequisite for a class I’m taking next semester, I need it to go abroad, it’s the only class that fits in my schedule, I’ve heard great things about how you teach, I’ve tried to get into the class X amount of times before, etc.

The best case scenario is if they say they will admit you before classes even start. You’ll just need to get an “add class” form from the registrar and bring it to your first class. Have the professor sign the form and return it to the registrar.

If they say the class is too full or if they say “no” right away, go to the first class and check it out. If you’re lucky, there might not be a lot of people on the waiting list that actually showed up. Sometimes you’ll even have to attend the first week or two of class before you’ll know if you’re in or not. This will give them time to see how many people dropped the class. Even if you can’t get in that semester, the professor might note that you were on the waiting list and might let you in automatically the next time the class is offered.

If you don’t meet the prerequisite requirements: You’ll need to talk to the professor or your advisor about what you need to do to prove you’re ready for the class. In order to prove you can handle the work, you may be offered one of several options:


  • take some sort of entrance exam
  • show them a portfolio or work from a previous related class
  • show them you AP, IB, or SAT II scores for that subject
  • if you have other extenuating circumstances, and you might just need to explain them to the professor


Also, if you’re a junior or senior, sometimes you can get out of the prerequisites without doing any of those things above. For example, psychology or sociology classes will have a prerequisite of psych 101 or soc 101. However, this is because those intro classes are required for the major and they want you to take them in order. They also want to make sure you have solid writing skills. By the time you’re a junior or senior, neither of those really matter, so they may let you in without much hesitation.

If you’re not a junior or senior but you know what you’re major is, you might also be let in if you can explain that the class will compliment your major. Let’s say, for example that your major is Latin American Studies and you want to take an upper-level sociology course that examines urban populations around the world. You might be able to tie the class to your major if at least one of the sections of the class looks at Latin America or if you do your main paper or project on a Latin American country. If they professor sees that you’re interested in just the class itself and not in sociology as a major, they might let you in.


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