Understanding Waitlists

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A waitlist is a list of students who wish to be in a class but there are no seats open to them; e.g. the class is full, the remaining seats are reserved for certain types of students etc.

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  • How does it work?
    • The waitlist process promotes students based on their position on the enrollment section of the class AND their meeting of class/course requirements. This means that the student at position #1 on the waitlist may not be the next student enrolled, as they might not meet the requirements/reserve caps (such as being in a specific major or grade level)
  • Who can set up a waitlist?
    • Class Enrollment Managers
    • Department Schedulers
  • When should I use a waitlist?
    • In general it’s a best practice to have a waitlist for all classes because of the heavy enrollment fluctuation (enrolling, swapping and dropping) during the enrollment period.
  • When should I not use a waitlist?
    • Independent Study classes (199’s and 299’s)
    • If you don’t want to manage it
    • If the course has a bi-directional co-requisite (this can cause a student to be placed on the waitlist but they will never be promoted)
    • If the class is set up for specific students/student populations only, and will never allow other student populations to enroll
  • How do I use a waitlist?
    • Setting waitlist capacity up on a class section to be greater than 0
    • Make sure that “Auto-Enroll from Wait List” remains checked
    • If the class is cross-listed, make sure to update the combined sections table as well waitlist capacity
  • What blocks enrollment to a waitlist?
    • Class requisites
    • Course requisites
    • Waitlist capacity
    • Add Consent = Department or Instructor consent
  • Do waitlists end or expire?
    • Yes,  at the end of the 3rd week of instruction, the Office of the Registrar stops running the waitlist process for Fall/Spring term
    • Summer ends the waitlist at the end of add/drop period of each session
    • The waitlist is not deleted, and students are not dropped from the waitlist. Enrollment from the list will no longer be automatic, and the department may manually run the waitlist or manually enroll students from the waitlist. After the end of the 5th week of the semester, only the College can enroll students.
  • Why is the student on a wait list if there are open seats?
    • There may be reserve caps set up on the class that student does not meet; e.g. Math majors only, freshmen only, etc.
    • If the classes are set up to not allow time conflicts, the student will remain on the waitlist
    • The student may have hit their unit maximum
    • If it is a combined section, enrollment capacity of the joint class may have been reached
    • If there are required non enrollment components, the student may be on the waitlist for a non enrollment component which is full, though space is available in the enrollment component
  • How long should my waitlist be?
    • Rule of thumb: Make your waitlist ~50% of the class enrollment limit
  • Can I change the size of my waitlist at any point during the enrollment period?
    • Yes
  • What is a student’s experience of a waitlist?
    • How do they know when they are waitlisted?
    • The student is informed in CalCentral during the enrollment process.How do they know when they have been enrolled from the waitlist?
    • The student receives an email message. They can also check CalCentral.How do they know if they are dropped off of a waitlist?
    • The student receives an email message. They can also check CalCentral
  • Can an Enrollment Manager or Department Scheduler move a student:
    • From waitlist to enrolled?
      • Enrollment Managers can use the Roster Management tools to move students from the waitlist to being enrolled.
      • Enrollment  Managers can use the Enrollment page: change the waitlist position number to 1 and run the waitlist manually
    • From one waitlist to another?
      • No
  • Can instructors see waitlists?
    • Yes, instructors can see the waitlist for each of their classes in CalCentral
  • Can instructors move students on or off of a waitlist?
    • No. However, instructors can request to an Enrollment Manager to move students on or off of a waitlist. Instructors cannot do this themselves.
  • Can the waitlist be purged?
    • Not at this time
  • Can students change secondary sections while on a waitlist?
    • No, they must drop from the waitlist and re-enroll. Swapping secondary sections is not possible

General Facts about Waitlists:

  • Waitlist process runs 4x daily from start of enrollment to end of 3rd week.
  • Waitlists can be run manually by staff.
  • Office of the Registrar starts/stops the waitlist process in Campus Solutions.
  • Some departments use the waitlist as a way to gauge demand for the class. Sometimes new sections are added because the department sees the need and responds.
  • Students’ get email messages from the system when they move from a waitlist into the class, future swap, and failed enrollment requests.
  • For large classes, the waitlist can be used to demonstrate need for and populate additional sections (which require additional GSIs, etc.)
  • When attendance is required, departments can use the waitlist to add students who actually attended in the first two weeks, while dropping enrolled students who did not attend.
  • If you’re using Reserve Caps for the whole class and not expiring them you may want to consider using Requisites instead. The use of Reserve Caps allows students to be placed on the waitlist which could give false expectations, as the student will never be enrolled from the waitlist (since they don’t meet the reserve cap requirement).
  • Best Practice: Waitlist limit should be ~50% of enrollment limit; e.g., if the enrollment limit is 36 students, make the waitlist limit 18.
  • After 5th week of instruction, CalCentral stops showing waitlists.

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