Exploring Enrollment

Analyzing trends in 20 years of UCLA Registrar data

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How popular are classes?

Almost every UCLA student has a story about a class they couldn't enroll in. For students uncertain of their major, the need to prioritize certain classes can lead to strees. For commuter and working students, the calculus of course selection includes the need to factor in travel time and a work schedule. For students who need to take specific courses to declare their major, having a later enrollment priority can set back their graduation time or cause them to abandon their first choice major completely.

How does undergraduate enrollment work?

UCLA assigns each student an enrollment appointment based on their class standing and a random number generator.

Enrollment is divided into three passes:

  • Priority Pass is the first pass period. It lasts about three days allows Regents Scholars, athletes in NCAA sports, qualified veterans, foster youth served by the Guardian Scholars Program, homeless youth, and students served by the Center for Accessible Education to enroll in up to 10 units.1 Priority pass is also limited such that at least 50% of a course's seats must still be available by First Pass.
  • First Pass is the next pass, which allows all students (including students who enrolled in Priority Pass) to enroll in up to 10 units.
  • Second Pass is the last pass period, in which students can enroll in all remaining classes they want to, up to their School's unit limit.

Within First and Second Pass, students are divided into groups by the number of units they have.2 Each group, starting with seniors who expect to graduate within the next two quarters, are allocated approximately a day for enrollment. Within each group's time, students are randomly assigned a time at which they can start enrolling in classes.

Using the time it takes for a section to fill up as a proxy, we can visualize the popularity of courses from winter and spring quarters 2020.

Which classes are the most difficult?

In a similar vein to the above, we can use the number of students who drop a course after the quarter starts to visualize how difficult a class is.

  1. Priority pass used to be available to many more students including honors, Academic Advancement Program, GE cluster,and ROTC students. These groups were removed in fall 2009 after the UCLA Academic Senate determined that there were too many students who had priority standing.
  2. AP and IB credits do not count towards undergraduate class levels as of Fall 2015 to provide students in the same year equal oppurtunity to enroll in classes. This is confusing to many students as many other university programs, such as honor societies, do factor in these units.