SimpleEnroll cuts ties with Axess, keeps some problems

Dec. 2, 2022, 7:13 p.m.

Stanford’s new standalone SimpleEnroll website was put to the test Thursday night as students registered for winter quarter classes.

The new website, according to the University, was designed with the goal of avoiding the crashes that plagued students during fall quarter enrollment. Many students confirmed that the new website marked an improvement — especially for the lucky few who noticed that the website had opened for enrollment a few minutes earlier than the publicized start time — but others still found themselves struggling to enroll when SimpleEnroll experienced processing delays after 9 p.m.

“I did see some website crashes, but it seemed like within a couple minutes it was back up for most people,” said Eric Heng ’26. “I think overall, compared to the several hours wait, this was very good.”

The new SimpleEnroll website opened Monday for students to familiarize themselves with the platform and plan their courses. The University urged students to direct their traffic toward the new website, which hosted SimpleEnroll outside of Axess, the old system where students had previously experienced hours-long wait times to enroll. An alternate method to enroll is still available in Axess, but the University said that option should only be used by students who need assistive technology.

This decision to separate SimpleEnroll from Axess followed years of hectic course registration revolving around the crash-prone Axess. The original software, created in 1983, saw its last major update in 2000. Now, more than two decades later, Axess continues to plague the student population.

“I literally have thoughts of transferring every time I’ve been on SimpleEnroll,” said Jason Lin ’25 of course enrollment.

When students registered for fall classes in September, Axess crashed for hours. Many students found themselves on waitlists or unable to enroll in desired classes. Over the years, the University frequently promised updates, but students said in advance of Thursday night that they had yet to see a significant improvement.

The separated SimpleEnroll promised increased reliability, according to a page on the Stanford Student Services website. “The goal of this step was to provide a stable, reliable system that can handle thousands of simultaneous enrollments,” Student Services said.

According to Student Services, the new platform “can accommodate over three times the number of enrollment transactions per minute.” Though the website looks identical to its predecessor on Axess, the University IT-tested website should have avoided the “vendor provided Axess portal technology that caused enrollment outages earlier this fall,” the website said.

While the screen-reader friendly Enroll (Alternate) was still open to students needing accessibility support, Student Services told students who didn’t need extra support to exclusively use SimpleEnroll to “reduce strain on Axess.” Student Services also foreshadowed further changes to the registration process through 2023, including “improving the user interface and adding new features and functionality.”

Though the University noted in an earlier email to students that they were “confident in its robust performance,” some students remained cautious earlier this week.

“It’s going to be a raging dumpster fire,” predicted Kathaleen Mallard ’25 in advance of course enrollment Wednesday.

While course enrollment seemed to flow better than previous quarters, the experience certainly failed to live up to the promised standards.

“It kept crashing, and then, by the time it stopped crashing, the classes were full,” said Jordan David ’26. “So now, I’m struggling.”

Despite the processing delays and crashes, some students think hope is in the air.

“It went really well. Anticlimactic. It took me fifteen minutes,” Ayesha Rahman ’24 said. “I think it’s a positive sign.”

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