Schedule of courses tips series: Knowing when to sign up for courses

November 18, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- Tip #2. Know when to sign up for courses by using the "Registration Timetables."

When it comes to the course registration process at Penn State it's important to know when you can start signing up for next semester's courses. The quickest and easiest way to figure this out is to go to the Schedule of Courses at and click on the tab titled "Registration Timetables."

As you know, the earliest date that you may register for courses is determined by the total number of credits you have earned plus the number of credits for which you are currently enrolled. The "Registration Timetables" at will tell you the exact date that corresponds to your number of credits. All you need to do is select the semester, your campus location, your student level, and find the date that matches up with your number of credits. Set an alert on your computer or cell phone calendar to be sure this date doesn't pass by without your notice.

Penn State's course registration system isn't a first-come, first-served free for all, but the old adage still prevails, "the early bird does catch the first bus to Pittsburgh." Here's why. The rule that determines the first day that you can register is also used to distribute the demand for available course space over a defined period of time giving students who are closest to graduation an advantage over new first year students when it comes to finding open spaces in select courses. When the first day that you can register finally arrives you will not only share that start with students who have the same minimum credit designation as you but you will also be competing for space with all the students who had an earlier registration start time. So what does this mean? It means don't be late and don't miss your earliest registration start time.

Hint: On that designated registration day, you can access "Registration" on eLion at 12:01 a.m. The system closes down at 3 a.m. and is up again at 7 a.m. Remember, this is the first day you can register, not the last. Keep trying! You can keep changing your schedule until the drop/add deadline.

*This tip is one in a series of monthly articles written to help students get the most from the Schedule of Courses online registration service at The Schedule of Courses offers an array of useful resources that can be used in preparation for course registration. These resources include registration timetables, listings of past course offerings, University Park building maps as well as advanced sort and search features for finding future course offerings and their associated scheduling information (i.e. schedule numbers, meeting times, classroom locations, department phone numbers, course descriptions, class limits etc.) All this right from your keyboard at

Last Updated March 19, 2009