I am currently entering my third year at university, unfortunately my grades in the second year were lower second honours (which places me in the bottom 40 percentile) putting me at a disadvantage when picking my major subject module for this upcoming year.

We are not asked to submit a CV or attend an interview for admission into major subjects for the third year.

Students who pick a specific major subject are also asked to pick a minor subject - selection for minors is usually not deemed to be competitive. However, it turns out the minor subject I have chosen (entrepreneurship) was actually over subscribed and thus allocation has been delayed for the course organisers to make a choice as to which students are selected.

For the past two years at university I have spent a lot of time getting involved in, and reaching elected executive positions within entrepreneurship societies and groups (very rare for an undergraduate).

I feel like if the course organisers were to know about my additional interest, I would easily be accepted into the course. Every other student I know (in my academic year) does not show an active interest in entrepreneurship except for a few who only picked the course as a minor subject.

However I believe the course organisers are forced to make their decision based on grades alone, this may result in my rejection.

Would it be acceptable for me to email the course organiser and explain my situation (and interest in his course) or would that be deemed as an unfair attempt to skew the decision making in my favour?

EDIT: As well as undergrads studying my subject the course is open to other undergraduates (in other subjects) MBA and Ph.D students. Making it difficult for the course organisers to make a decision based on grades alone (as many MBA or Ph.D students will have received their honours at a different university where the honours system cannot be objectively compared).

  • 1
    Welcome to Academia.SE. Unfortunately, this site focuses on academic issues at the postgraduate level and beyond - questions applicable only to undergraduate study are off-topic. Sep 16, 2014 at 20:08
  • @NateEldredge: But you could ask the same question about, for instance, an interdisciplinary master's program.
    – aeismail
    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:04
  • @aeismail: I suppose. But as it currently stands this seems very specific to the asker's situation, institution and program. Sep 17, 2014 at 5:08

1 Answer 1


Limited admission courses can happen at any level, for a number of reasons. In my own experience, it has tended to be some combination of three cases:

  1. The department intends the limited admission to be a filter, to redirect "unpromising" students elsewhere.
  2. Resources are simply limited, and only a certain number of students can be supported (this is especially the case for courses that are experiments with the curriculum).
  3. "Permission of instructor needed": this is some sort of special or favored upper level course, and the instructor is aiming for something more like a seminar or reading group than an ordinary course.

If you're dealing with the first case, then there may be a formal standard, and you're just out of luck. Much of the time, however, professors have some leeway in how they handle selection. In some cases, students are actually encouraged to present their case (but if that was the case, you would know). As an instructor, I would rather any day be dealing with an enthusiastic and hardworking student than one who's just there because it's part of their program, even if the hardworking student is somewhat more poorly rated.

So yes, by all means get in contact, express your enthusiasm and background, and see what the instructor says. If you're polite and willing to take no for an answer, then the worst that can happen is they say no.

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