Students still struggle to get into their required courses

With the 2016/17 school year only a few weeks away, courses and wait lists are almost fully registered.

"The courses aren't that bad — the bad part is that you need to get in," joked Henry Chen, a second-year computer science student.

Students from all faculties struggle with this dilemma every year as important 100-level classes and higher-level, pre-requisite classes fill up far quicker before the high number of students that need to enroll can get a spot. Some notable examples include ENGL 100, BIOL 112, CPSC 110, PHYS 101, CHEM 121 and even more in upper-level classes.

Each faculty has released statements on their respective webpages with “What do I do?” or “What to do if your course is full” tips to ease the transitional periods in these times of waiting for spaces to open up. 

But there is no guarantee students will get into their courses through checking the SSC, as these “particular [strategies] will not work for many courses especially multi-section courses; they have coordinators in departmental offices who control space so even if it looks like there is an opening, you likely won’t be able to register in it,” according to the UBC Science website.

These rules are only applicable to first- and second-year courses, however. Chen described the trouble he faced getting into CPSC 121.

"I went to Arts Advising and they pretty much told me there wasn’t anything that could be done towards my major and that I should just wait it out," said Chen.    

In an interview with The Ubyssey, the acting director of arts academic advising, Susanne Goodison, spoke regarding graduating students who are facing the same hardships in registration but have a better chance.

“There is a policy in the calendar that says no student can be denied access to a course they need for graduation,” said Goodison. This is also listed on the UBC arts undergraduate website

“We work quite closely with that student … then often with the department and sometimes the instructor to ensure that we come to a solution,” she said. “The process begins with looking and seeing what are the options in terms of what kinds of courses are available, and from there, then we start to see what we can fit into the schedule.”

As for students not in their graduating year, Goodison said arts academic advising will work with those students as well, but cannot absolutely guarantee them a seat.

“[We will] work with them as much as we can to make sure that their schedule is working in such a way so that it’s not going to … cause a delay in their graduation over the long term.”

Although the university offers support in these types of situations, many students have been taking matters into their own hands. 

Established in 2009, a website called is filling the gap. For five dollars, students can sign up for personalized e-mail and text notifications if spots become available in a class. The service does not actually register students into their classes but instead gives them a chance to register on their own. 

"We were filling a need," said Jay Zhang, UBC alumni and co-founder behind "My partner was having trouble getting into one of his courses at UBC when we were students at the time and we were both 4th-year computer science students so he wrote the code that would check for spots available and it kind of just went from there."

Getting into the course is not 100 per cent guaranteed, but the service promises that they "won't stop trying until you get into the course you want" — and if you miss a spot, there are no additional fees to get more notifications.

Zhang estimates that "since 2011, we've had about 5700 users, or 5700 courses that we've notified people about."

Another popular service is Slacknotes' Eyeout. The Eyeout system is free and also sends students notifications about courses when they become available. One major benefit — besides the price — is that Eyeout also runs a type of live chat stream, where UBC students post the courses they need and also attempt to buy, sell and swap their seats in fully-registered classes with classmates via text and e-mail.

One UBC student last year also created a Reddit thread with a script that automatically registers students into their courses, though it has not gained as much traction as other methods.

With files from Samantha McCabe.