How do you get into that popular course?

Perhaps the most important thing to learn from this blog is that people who are confident will not let the rules restrict them if there is something they want. I’m not talking about scary serious rules like driving on the correct side for your country, but about getting help mentoring, getting into classes, or getting a rejected paper reconsidered.

Some choice classes are hard to get into

How does this work? In all cases it works with careful, respectful, fact-filled communication. Make your case as strong as you can. An early time in your career is to use this to get into classes you want to take that might be full, or will fill before you get a chance to register.

Remember, neither the students nor the professors like the standard registration system. We professors want the best students in our classes. We want people who are engaged, hard working, committed to coming, to listening and participating, and helping others. Show them you are that person.

So, email the professor early, even before registration period. Make that first email tell. Include as much information as will be helpful. Say why you want to take the course, what your career goals are, what other courses or experiences you can bring to the class, what great things you have heard about the class, and attach your resume and informal transcript. Ask how you can get into the class. At this point the teacher should want you and make it happen.

Don’t make that first email a query as to whether this stuff is even possible. Just do it!

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About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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