Classes start Monday at most of Utah's colleges and universities, but for last-minute students it may not be too late to get back into class.

Winter breaks that have included many a ski trip, visits home and other college student sprees have come and gone, and students are going to be forced to start thinking seriously about hitting the books. The day spring semester starts is no surprise for most students, but some have yet to choose the courses they're interested in, which creates mayhem for some registration offices.

"It's easier to get it done a lot earlier than to try and push it through two days before school starts," said Darby Cowles, who works at the University of Utah's registrar's office. "Our phones have been steady throughout the day."

Depending on the circumstances, many classes may be full or not available until the last minute, and taking the necessary steps to get enrolled can be tricky, which is why most schools extend the registration date weeks past the first day of school.

"It's not a lost cause, it's just a little bit more work, and some additional fees are associated," Cowles said.

Students hoping to complete required general education credits such as English 101 and early levels of math may have some trouble as those credits fill up quickly, said Utah State University spokesman Tim Vitale. Other than high-demand courses, most credits aren't too difficult to fit into a schedule.

"We've been putting great efforts into alleviating those initial math and English classes that tend to keep people from moving on, or used to keep people from moving on," he said. "We've really added a lot of those sections where students are begging to get into class and teachers are cramming them cause you don't want to hold them up."

Registration for spring semester began during the fall semester at most schools, and most students have their course schedules set in stone before they leave for the winter break, but Vitale said some change their minds and shuffle things around during the first two or three weeks of school. Such reconfiguration can be done at most institutions through the third week of January, and through the first week at Salt Lake Community College and Southern Utah University, without additional penalties or fees.

"Why wait until then because then you'll just be behind, and that doesn't make any sense," said SLCC spokesman Joy Tlou.

Still, Vitale said a few students end up "winging it through the semester," constantly changing the courses they're registered for.

Students who have yet to be accepted to a college or university of their choice may or may not be out of time to register, depending on the school. At the U., Cowles said admission must be followed by a new-student orientation and meeting with an adviser, which can take some time to coordinate. However, with tuition costs rising and enrollment still stagnant at many of Utah's public colleges, she said now is as good a time as any to get started.

"The best thing to do is register beforehand," Tlou said. "The people who register beforehand are always more satisfied with their schedule, the offerings and how things play out for them through the semester."

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