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Off the Waitlist and Into the Class

What should you do if the class you want to register for is full? Why the best thing to do is to add your name to the waitlist. 

Posted on February 23, 2024

Liz O’Brien is a local fiber artist, a frequent North House student, and is now a part of North House’s Artisan Development Program. In the fall of 2022, Liz was excited to see a Beginning Spinning class with Martha Owen scheduled for Fiber Week. There was just one problem: the class was already full, and there was a waitlist. 

As North House has grown, many classes fill up quickly, sometimes soon after registration opens. This can feel disappointing for students who go to register for a class only to find that it’s already filled. Some students wonder if it’s worth registering for a waitlist, especially if said waitlist is long. And while there’s no guarantee that a spot will open, there is more movement on waitlists than many people realize. 

When students add their name to a waitlist, it sends a clear signal to our Program Managers that certain classes are popular and that there’s demand for more sessions.

Despite Martha Owen’s class being full, Liz O’Brien decided to add her name to the waitlist. A few months later, she got a call from North House: a spot had opened up in the class, and it was hers if she wanted it. 

“That had been a pie-in-the-sky one for me for a long time, to try to get into Martha’s class,” Liz said. “I was really excited that I got in—it was a nail-biter since I was on the waiting list, but I got the call and got in.”

How Waitlists Work

Most of the time, North House waitlists run in chronological order; the person who registered for the waitlist first is the first one to get contacted when a spot opens up. In these cases, people on the waitlist typically have a day or two of time (depending on how soon the class starts) to decide if they want to take the spot before it’s offered to the next person on the list. This means that it’s still best to register for a class early, even if you’re on the waitlist—you’ll have a better chance of getting into the class you want the higher up on the list you are. 

However, there are times when a student drops a class last minute. When a class is scheduled to start between one and two weeks away, those on the waitlist get contacted in the order they registered, but without the wait time to decide. This means that whoever responds first gets the spot. And if a class starts within one week, everyone gets contacted at once, and the spot goes to whoever replies first. This means that while there is no guarantee, there is still a chance of getting into a class even if you are farther down on a long waitlist. 

If there's a last-minute opening in a class, all students on the waitlist get contacted at once, so it's still worth it to add your name even if the waitlist is long. 

“It is absolutely worth it to add your name to a waitlist if the class you want to take is full,” said Rachel Andrus, Front Office Host at North House. “The chance of a spot opening in a class is something that cannot be predicted, but it does happen regularly. Our front office staff team typically calls at least one waitlist per day. And if there are already many names on the list, I still recommend adding yourself, because if a spot does open, many times we end up working our way down the waitlist as folks who added their name have made other plans and are unable to accept the spot.”

When Liz O’Brien checked into her Beginning Spinning class, she met several other students there who had previously been on the waitlist.

“I think that speaks to the fact that no matter how long a waitlist is, there’s still a chance you can get in,” Liz said. “Schedules change, people get sick, things come up, so it’s always worth getting on the waitlist even if you think you’re not going to get into the class."

Registration opens February 29 (or February 28 for members) for all courses from June 1—October 15, 2024. Find everything you need to know about registration, waitlists, and more here