‘Batch Enroll’ botches course enrollment, students say

March 2, 2023, 7:28 p.m.

In the late hours of Wednesday March 1, Luke Clifton ’25 was winding down from a long day by watching a movie on his computer. But in the back of his mind, the clock was ticking closer and closer to 9 p.m., when spring quarter class enrollment would open for Stanford students across campus and abroad.

Meanwhile, Stanford’s latest course enrollment feature, Batch Enroll, was about to be put to the test. Emails sent to students by the registrar before enrollment introduced the new function on Stanford’s enrollment site SimpleEnroll as an option that would students to register for all of their classes “in a single click.”

But when Clifton paused his movie, ready to register for all of his classes in one click, he was met with a wave of errors, claiming that there was a “Hold on record” and that he would be unable to add the classes.

A series of holds on a red error message.
In trying to enroll for classes, Clifton faced what he called a “nonexistent hold.” (Courtesy of Luke Clifton.)

But he said his faith in the enrollment system wasn’t strong beforehand.

“When I saw the holds, I was unfazed,” he said.

Clifton said that he had an email template prepared for all his professors to ask them to enter him on the waitlist, “because Axess always breaks for me. At this point, it’s not even stressful.”

Clifton wasn’t the only one who experienced difficulties enrolling in courses  with Batch Enroll. Bowen Jiang ’23 said he was “betrayed” by the new function.

“They made a whole fuss about how it’s some awesome new feature and it crashed out of the gate,” Jiang wrote, adding that he was only able to enroll in classes manually, one class at a time, an hour after enrollment opened.

He said that his biggest frustration, however, was not his difficulties in enrolling in classes, but instead, that “Stanford fails to manage expectations when they claim a ‘two minute’ processing time for peak enrollment and the feature completely fails.”

According to the Student Services website, during “peak enrollment time,” the new feature “can take up to two minutes” to process student requests. Many students, including Jiang, experienced much longer wait times.

In an email to the student body, the University Chief Information Officer Steve Gallagher and the University Registrar Johanna Metzgar called the student experience “unacceptable.” According to the email, the outage was “caused by underlying PeopleSoft student information system being overwhelmed by the surge in volume that was enabled by our new SimpleEnroll web application.”

The University is pursuing alternate options for enrollment management and encouraged students to provide feedback.

Daily columnist Nick Sligh ’23, who was ready to go on the SimpleEnroll website at 9 p.m. exactly, wrote in a message to The Daily that he was worried about fulfilling his graduation requirements.

“No senior in their final quarter at Stanford should be struggling to enroll in a class they need to graduate,” Sligh wrote.

Jiang echoed this sentiment, writing that the lag time during enrollment unduly increases stress “for highly impacted, required courses for seniors/final-year students.”

Rachel Braswell ’24 pointed to what she described as another pitfall of enrollment: the inability to successfully plan ahead. She said that the timing of class offerings “should be known four years out because otherwise a four-year plan can get completely destroyed.”

Enrollment has long been a subject of complaint at Stanford. Last quarter, the University decided to separate SimpleEnroll from Axess. The new website was designed with the goal of avoiding crashes, according to the University.

Though the separated website was deemed an improvement by some students during Winter Quarter enrollment, this quarter’s enrollment woes proved that the separation did not fix every aspect.

Some students suggested alternative methods of enrollment.

Malia Perez ’25 proposed opening enrollment at “different days/times by year.”

“There’s no reason a senior should be fighting with a frosh for a class they need,” wrote Perez.

Sligh joked about doing enrollment on paper.

“If we gotta do this like election voting, then so be it,” he wrote, “Line up to submit your ballot at Tressider [sic].”

Oriana Riley ’25 is a News Managing Editor at The Daily. Every once in a while, she drops an iconic Campus Life article. Outside of The Daily, Oriana enjoys running a lot of miles and eating a lot of food. Contact Oriana at news ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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