FORT WORTH -- Tarrant County College students waited online for hours to sign up for winter-break and spring classes as the college's computer system was overloaded by more than 1 million attempts to connect.
TCC's WebAdvisor system was running at 100 percent capacity when online registration began at 6 a.m. Tuesday, said Frank Griffis, a TCC spokesman. About 4,000 to 5,000 students were trying to gain access to a system that can handle about 1,500 to 2,000 students per hour.
By noon, 98,050 students had been on the system with over 1 million connection attempts, Griffis said.
"We regret there are students having problems registering," Griffis said. "We don't want that to happen."
TCC officials said the logjam characterizes the early hours of registration because the school's open-enrollment policy allows anybody to register at any time, new students as well as returning ones. Other schools have a priority system that allows groups of students to sign up for classes in a specified order.
"Everybody was trying to get on the system on the same day," said TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley. "It's always this way on the first day of registration for the semester. It's kind of like trying to build a church for Easter Sunday."
The problem has been a yearly issue that has worsened as the community college's enrollment has grown. School officials are "examining methods to fix this problem in a fair and efficient way," said Bill Greenhill, president of TCC's board of trustees.
Hadley said one possibility is to allow students to register by the number of hours completed.
TCC is trying to weigh the outcome of two recent changes in the enrollment process before it makes another change, Greenhill said. This year, TCC began implementing a pay-as-you-go process for tuition, said David Ximenez, TCC's associate vice chancellor for enrollment services. Students pay on the same day they register, allowing the college to better manage class availability.
TCC also stopped allowing students to register a week before classes start because data indicate that students who wait until the last minute to sign up for classes aren't as successful as those who have more time to prepare, he said.
While TCC made recent upgrades to the computer system, more may be required, Griffis said.
The enrollment clog typically occurs in the first 24 to 48 hours of registration and then settles down, Ximenez said.
"We understand it is an inconvenience," he said.
Students were signing up for the spring semester and for classes such as English, history and algebra during winter break. Last December, 1,527 students took classes at TCC.
Some students expressed frustration on TCC's Facebook page.
At about 10:30 a.m., J. Orion Liptak posted: "Waiting two hours to get through the registration process and then not being allowed to pay is like shopping at Wal-Mart at dinner time and when you finally get to the front the cashier just punches you in the face and tips your cart over."
Another student, Jackie Anice Stafford, stated: "Man, y'all need to update this whole registration process!!!"
By about 2:30 p.m., another student, Alicia LatinQueen Martinez, was content. She posted: "Registered :)"
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675