Registering for Classes at CU Boulder

Registering for classes can feel overwhelming; you have so many offerings to choose from, but you have to make sure you’re fulfilling graduation requirements. As someone who’s been there, I understand the stress of trying to schedule classes at the ideal times and with the best professors. Here are some tips from my time at CU Boulder, as well as things I’ve learned from working with many current CU students.

Understanding the Basics

The first step is getting familiar with the registration process itself. 

  • Log in to Buff Portal: Make sure you can access the Buff Portal and understand how it works. 
  • Check for holds: If there are holds, identify the department responsible and act quickly. We recommend emailing and visiting the relevant office (if possible). Removing holds can take time, and until a hold is removed from your account, you won’t be able to register for classes.
  • Know your dates and deadlines: Research registration dates and deadlines, which can vary by year and program. For first-year students: you may not know your dates until you finish CU’s “Online Experience” or meet with your advisor. 
  • Set reminders and/or alarms: Missing these dates or registering later than you were slated can lead to missing out on preferred classes. Registration is too important to just be kept in your memory—set reminders! 
  • First-Year students: If you’re a first-year student (rising freshman or transfer student), your requirements before registration look different. You must complete the Online Experience course in your Canvas and complete your required placements tests before registering. Once you’ve finished these, you must meet with an advisor to discuss your next steps in the registration process. 

Smart Course Selection 

Here are the steps and a few other things to keep in mind: 

  • Research ahead of time: Using the Search Classes tool and your Degree Audit, you can research your classes to be prepared before meeting your advisor. 
  • Schedule an appointment to meet with your advisor: Before making any decisions, schedule an advising appointment at least a week before your registration date. Advisor appointments are very limited during this time of the year, so make sure you schedule your appointment as early as you’re able. Each university and program has unique requirements, and your advisor will be the expert. We can’t emphasize this advisor meeting enough!
  • Pick backup classes: Popular classes fill up quickly, so always have a few backup courses in your “shopping cart.” If your first choices aren’t available, you can enroll in some of your backup classes without scrambling. (Sometimes you’ll be able to still enroll in the original classes you wanted—ask your advisor about waitlists and more!)
  • Time and location: Consider the class times and locations to avoid scheduling conflicts and long or inconvenient commutes. CU is a big campus; getting to different buildings often takes longer than you think. Also, build your schedule tailored to your needs–if you’re not a morning person don’t sign up for 8am classes!
  • Prerequisites and corequisites: Double-check any prerequisites or corequisites for your desired courses to avoid surprises during registration. Use your advisor as a resource.

After Registration 

Once you’ve registered for classes, there are a few more steps to make sure your schedule works for you and aligns with your goals.

  • Double-check your new schedule: Once you’ve registered, take a moment to double-check your schedule to ensure it’s accurate, AND realistic. 
  • Add the new classes to your calendar: Enter your classes into your calendar and set recurring appointments in your Google Calendar, planner, or other organizational systems.
  • Brainstorm routines: Plan your movement, self-care, social, and academic routines, including office hours and study times. 
  • Set an add/drop deadline reminder: Put the add/drop deadline in your calendar. This will be your last chance to make changes without financial penalties, so use this time to fine-tune your schedule and make sure each class is a good fit. 
  • If you get stuck: The Registrar’s Office is a valuable resource for any registration-related questions. They can help with complex issues and provide additional guidance. 

Common Recommendations I Give:

Based on my own experiences and the students I have worked with, here are some additional tips to make registration less stressful. 

  • Set alarms and reminders: To avoid missing important registration deadlines, set multiple alarms and reminders using your phone, computer, or calendar. 
  • Optimal study times: Reflect on your personal learning style and peak productivity times. Try to schedule classes during times when you’re most focused and energized. 
  • Understand your Degree Audit: Your Degree Audit is the tool you will use to check which credits you need to graduate. However, generating and then reading your current Degree Audit takes some time to learn, and the process isn’t always as straightforward as you’d think. If you’re confused, set up a meeting with your advisor ASAP for a tutorial. Without your Degree Audit, you may miss certain credit requirements which can negatively impact whether or not you graduate on time.  
  • Over-enroll: If you’re unsure which classes to choose, especially for core curriculum courses, consider enrolling in more credits you plan to take. Use the first week as a trial period to evaluate each course and professor. Make sure to drop any unwanted classes before the deadline!
  • Workload: Be realistic about your workload capacity. Don’t overload yourself, especially in your first semester of college. Accounting, organic chemistry, and calc 2

Additional Tips for Structuring Your Schedule 

Everyone is unique, but here are tips we recommend depending on the situation: 

  • Avoid Back-to-Back Classes: If possible, avoid scheduling 3 or more back-to-back classes to prevent mental fatigue. Breaks between classes can help you recharge and focus better. We especially recommend this for students who have ADHD or other unique learning situations.
  • Avoid Long Breaks Between Classes: While breaks can help you catch up on homework or give you time to eat, long breaks can disrupt your day. If you need to schedule a break in between classes, try to keep it to under 2 hours so you can complete something meaningful during your break.


Balancing registration with current classes, friends, work, and life can be challenging. Learning to manage your time is key to having a smooth registration process. 
If you find yourself struggling, Untapped Learning is here to help. Our personalized coaching can provide you with strategies to improve your time management, stay organized, and make the most of your college experience. Reach out to us for support and resources tailored to your needs.

Go Buffs!

Parenting a child who struggles with executive function can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. Let Untapped help!

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