Chaotic frustration: Delta’s replacement of aging registration system falls short, fraying vital connections for students

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The rollout of Delta College's new registration system, MyDelta, has led to frustration, confusion and frayed connections for students. ILLUSTRATION BY VIVIENNE AGUILAR

Fall is off to a rocky start as the rollout of a new registration system went less than smoothly, causing problems with everything from enrolling in classes, to students being perpetually stuck on waitlists, to delays in financial aid distribution.

A week of turmoil culminated in Delta College issuing an open apology to students. 

“We know the new MyDelta registration system has been buggy at best,” read the opening line of the Aug. 30 apology from Dr. Omid Pourzanjani, Delta’s new president/superintendent, who assumed the role only 18 days prior.

“We are working hard to improve the new system and we cannot thank you enough for your patience with us over these past few weeks and months. I truly hope that these issues do not cause you to pull away from your educational goals,” the apology continued.

Issues remain. Financial aid payments are still in question. Continued problems with waitlists have frustrated students and faculty. Consensus is that while there is hope for the future, the launch of MyDelta has been nothing short of chaotic.

SOCIAL BACKLASH

Searching for the hashtag #MyDelta on Twitter produces mostly negative results. Students showed outward frustration, including calling MyDelta “literal trash.”

Other comments, presented as published on Twitter, include:

“can you fix MyDelta so it can actually work? this thing crashes every god damn time i’m on it.”

“does anyone know how to use the new mydelta system? bc its not even letting me log in to register for classes in the fall.”

“okay mydelta can FIGHT ME I just want to reset my frickin password”

Professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising Leslie Asfour was one of the first faculty members to notice the frustration expressed on social media, specifically in a Facebook group of nearly 5,000 for San Joaquin Delta College, not connected to the school outside of a Delta account being a “moderator.”

“We heard this in the Facebook page: ‘The old system was so easy so simple why would they make it so complicated for students now?’” said Asfour. 

In the apology, which went out on Delta College social media channels, Pourzanjani asks students to keep their faith through these technical difficulties.

Rollout of other parts of the system continue. 

“We’ve had a lot of hiccups in the implementation, I think we need to just face that fact. We’ve had issues with students trying to register, faculty trying to drop or add, those kinds of issues,” said Pourzanjani during an interview the first week of the semester.

Once the dust settles for MyDelta, Pourzanjani said he believes it will be more helpful to the campus than the former system.

LACK OF COMMUNICATION

After the system’s launch there was little to no communication on how to use it. Social media posts advertised drop-in training for students starting in late May, after most had left campus for the summer. Faculty attended training the Friday before the start of this semester, but full features were not available.

“Nothing we had access to was live,” Asfour said. “So we watched somebody on a screen showing us what we will have and they promised it would be live on Monday morning and we would have access to these things on Monday morning. That didn’t happen. Then Tuesday, we had access to some stuff. So, nothing was ready for us and I think that there are still some issues that should be solved immediately.”

From the student perspective, registration dates were missed because of trouble logging into MyDelta or understanding how to use the new system, particularly the multi-step process to add courses. 

“I think that if they would have asked students or staff or at least notified us that there was going to be a change — I wasn’t here over summer, but like, a lot of students were telling me that it happened over summer and they could’ve notified us last semester, in spring that this was going to be happening so that we could at least have had some warning. Especially for like sign ups and registrations for students so we wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to get a class, like me,” said student Catherine Hall.

The San Joaquin Delta College Facebook group has likely the greatest number of public complaints. On Monday, a student said she was told after two full weeks of attending a class and hoping for a spot, the instructors couldn’t add her to courses. 

By late Wednesday, three weeks into the semester, the same student posted again to thank Delta staff for helping to fix the issues. But that student wasn’t alone in experiencing problems:

“Finally saw my transcripts on mydelta…there are some grades missing from my transcripts. Who do I contact about this? I am beyond frustrated. I wish they would have left well enough alone.  smh” 

“Who can I call regarding dropping a class? Im trying to drop a class but it keeps on telling me Im not registered to classes.”

“I have not been registered for any classes due to MyDelta and now Canvas isn’t working. That was my last hope to be added by today’s census count.”

WARNING SIGNS

A Google search for PeopleSoft, the enterprise resource planning software for MyDelta, reveals previous issues.

In Florida, Manatee County School District PeopleSoft implementation fell a year behind and cost twice as much as proposed. Problems encountered include lack of preparation and “defective modules.” The system cost taxpayers $24.1 million, according to an article published in The Bradenton Herald on Jan. 16, 2019.

At two community colleges (Tacoma and Spokane) in Washington, initial testing of the software “did not go smoothly,” according to an article published in The Spokesman-Review on Jan. 30, 2016. The schools experienced issues with enrollment and financial aid disbursement. The cost of the program shot to $110 million or more.

“People who chose it for Delta didn’t do some homework, and why wasn’t there something built in to allow this to be tested for a semester?” said Asfour.

Issues in implementation for software at this scale aren’t uncommon.

“I think I have done this, the fourth or fifth ERP migration that I’ve been through and I don’t think I’ve seen a smooth flawless one,” said Pourzanjani.

LOOKING FORWARD

The college admits mistakes were made.

“While the College has provided information to students and faculty, as well as continuously tried to solve a variety of ongoing issues, communication could have been much better throughout the implementation process and semester start,” said Delta Public Information Coordinator, Alex Breitler in response to Collegian questions.

Breitler said “more comprehensive” outreach is planned, but other steps including “alternative enrollment strategies” and additional late-start classes have already started.

“The College is in the process of identifying and reaching out to students who have encountered problems in order to resolve any remaining issues as soon as possible,” he wrote.

A debriefing is being planned.

When fully implemented, MyDelta is supposed to be a hub for all academic records and transactions. The Delta website promises personalized records, schedules, education plans, and more.

“At first I didn’t like it, but once I started exploring the system, I came to favor it because it showed me more information than the old system,” said Meredith Ramirez, a sophomore theater major. “I think it will be harder for older students to adapt to it, but I don’t think the ones who are new to Delta are going to care.”

Hannah Workman contributed to this report.