How to Crash a College Course Like a Pro

How frustrating! You’ve scoured the course catalog and consulted your advisor just to get capped-out of your dream class. Maybe it’s only offered once every few semesters, maybe years! Many students stop trying after that first failed click, but not you—you’re going to get in! Keep reading for tips to squeeze your way into the perfect semester:

1.) Think it over first.

You’ve surely got good reasons to butt your way into this class. Is it required for your major? Do you feel personally connected to the topic? Are you about to graduate? Do you need it to do independent research? Before you can persuade anyone else that you deserve a spot this semester, you’ll need to convince yourself!

A note to the passive student: Don’t let the thought of crashing a course convince you to give up, I know I’ve talked myself out of quite a few classes because of my unwillingness to assert myself.

2.) Sell yourself in an email.

Professors want students like you: after all, if you’re willing to wrestle your way in, chances are you’ll be more engaged than someone looking to fill a requirement. As a result, your best bet is to schmooze these guys with an email. If you need inspiration, try answering a few of these: What would you bring to the class discussions? Why are you interested (or interesting)? Most importantly: why do you need to take it this semester? Just remember, your professor has no obligation to read or reply to your email, so it’ll have to grab their attention or suffer the same fate as spam.

3.) Show up anyway…

…and make sure you’re early! You’d be surprised how many interested students chicken out before this step. A friend of mine once crashed an aquarium science class after hearing tales of a crowded classroom. To his surprise, only eight students showed up. Turns out the professor just had a reputation for scaring students away! If you show up ten minutes early, it’ll give you a chance to chat face to face with the professor while securing a chair. All you need is a quick “My name is *BLANK* and I emailed you about adding, may I sit in today?” They may remind you of your slim chance in, but they probably won’t turn you away, or they may suggest you talk with them after class.

4.) Be active and thoughtful in the class discussion.

If there was reading to do, make sure you can talk eloquently about it. Prove to the professor that you are committed. Afterward, you can meet one on one to finish paperwork and thank him or her.

5.) Talk about alternatives.

If you’ve failed to woo your professor so far, it may be time to suggest something else. Perhaps you can audit the class–sit in without getting credit. It may seem like a rip off at this point, but down the line the professor might let you add officially. If not, you’ve at least come off with what’s important—the skills and knowledge. You might also suggest doing a related independent study project with the professor. Either way, if you show a high level of commitment, you will cultivate a special relationship with your professor that might prove more valuable than the class (or credit) itself.

Bonus Tip: Nobody likes a brown noser, but genuine shared interests can go a long way. If you run into the professor in a casual setting, it doesn’t hurt to strike up a conversation. If you find that you share a few interests, there’s a better chance they’ll remember you–and in a positive light. My love of classic rock and vinyl records has helped me into more than one class led by an audiophile.

How have you ever wooed your way into a class? What was the class? Let us know your tricks in the comments.

written by
Eliza Miller
September 8, 2012

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