Course Registration Issues in US Colleges / Universities

In US Colleges / Universities you get to decide what class you want to take and in what semester / quarter you want to take it.

If you are a high school graduate or if your previous college / university does not follow this system, you will find this section very helpful.

Your academic advisor at your college / university will also help you with the registration process. However, it is always a good idea to learn how to do it in advance.

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How do I register for classes?

Usually, during the new student orientation, you will be told on how to register for classes. However, if you missed the orientation or your college / university does not have any new student orientation, bellow are common steps that you normally go through when you register for classes:

  1. First of all, you need to have an access to the college / university's registration system. Some colleges / universities provide you with the user name and temporary password to log in to the system. Your user name most likely will be either your student ID, your social security number, or your student e-mail address. Your temporary password usually is your date of birth. You will be pointed out to change your password when you log in to the system for the first time.
    If your college / university does not provide you with the user name and temporary password, you would have to consult the registrar office in your college / university on how to get an access to the registration system.

  2. After you log-in to the system, you will be able to see the class catalogue. You can search the class that you want to attend by the name of the class, the professor's name, or by class schedule. Browse through this catalogue, and make a note on what classes you plan to attend.

  3. Register for classes that you have chosen before, or you can consult with your academic advisor before you register for classes.

  4. Watch out for error messages when you register for classes. Below are some typical error message that you might get:

    • Time conflict: If by mistake you have time conflict between classes, the system normally will generate an error message to let you know that you have time conflict between classes. If that's the case, you will have to cancel one of the classes which has time conflict.
    • Prerequisite: Prerequisite class is the class that you need to take before you can take the more advance class. If you register for classes that require prerequisite, you have to make sure that you have already taken the prerequisite class or (by instructor permit) taking the prerequisite class simultaneously with the class that you would like to register for. Otherwise, the system will generate an error message, and it will not allow you to register for that particular class.
    • Seat availability: The system will generate an error message if there is no more seat available in the class that you want to register for. Therefore, do not wait until the last minute to register for classes

  5. Check your final schedule to make sure that you registered for the right classes.

  6. If you have not done so, after you register for classes, you might want to consult with your academic advisor regarding the classes that you have registered for.

How many classes should I take in one semester?

As an international student, you are required to be a full time student. In order to maintain a full time student status:

  • If you are in the undergraduate program (or equivalent), you have to take at least 12 credit in fall semester and spring semester. There is no credit requirement for summer semester.

  • If you are in the master / doctorate program, you have to take at least 9 credit in fall semester dan spring semester. There is no credit requirement for summer semester.

Can I add some class later after I registered for classes?

You can, as long as you add the class before the class registration deadline. With instructor's permit you may be able to add class after the class registration deadline.


What should I do if I want to drop (withdraw) my class that I've registered for?

You can drop of or withdraw your classes anytime you want, as long as your total credit after you drop of your classes is still at least 12 credit for undergraduate program and 9 credit for graduate program (Fall and Spring semester).

However, there are different consequences if you drop of your classes after certain dates. There are two type of consequeces in this case: the tuition refund that you can get, and the record on your transcript.

The illustration below will provide a better explanation:

Fall Semester 200x

Start Date
End Date
Refund Infromation
Academic Record
NO Record
W Grade

Example 1: If you drop your class before August 22, you will get full refund and there will be no record on your academic transcript

Example 2: If you drop of your class after Agust 22 and before August 29, you will get a 75% refund on the tuition that you have paid, and in your transcript there will be no record that you ever take the class.

Example 3: If you drop of the class after September 12 and before November 15, you will not get any refund on your tuition, and in your transcript your grade will be W (withdraw).

Example 4: After November 15 you can no longer drop your class, if you do so, you will get an F (Fail)

How do I pay my tuition?

Each college / university has its own payment policy, however, most colleges / universities provide you three ways to pay your tuition:
  • Appear in person to the cashier office / business office and pay your tuition by cash, by credit/debit card or by check / money order

  • Mail your check / money order to the cashier office / business office

  • Pay on-line by credit / debit card

I heard that international student pays higher tuition compared to that of the US student, is that true?

Generally yes.

In the US, if you are a resident of the same state as where the universtity exist, you are eligible for a state resident tuition. Otherwise you would have to pay an out-of-state tuition. You are considered a resident of a particular state if you reside (physically live) in the state for a certain period of time (normally 1 or 2 years) prior to applying for admission.

Since you are an international student, most likely you will have to pay an out-of state tuition, which is always more costly than the state resident tuition. However, if you can proof that you already reside in a particular state where your college / university exist, for the period required, you can file a petition for a state resident tuition.

It is good for you to know about this rule, especially if you transfer to another college / university after one or two years.

What are other costs that I need to pay along with my tuition?

In addition to your tuition, usually the school will charge you supplemental fee such as: library fee, technology fee, or course related fee, which is not included in your regular tuition.


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