A thousand calls, 6,500 new student accounts? All in a day's work

On March 15, students who applied to enter UC Davis this fall as undergraduates received emails directing them to the MyAdmissions Web site where they could learn if they're in. Applicants flooded the site, calling IT Express for help if they had lost their password or needed assistance--and the tech-help desk had to be ready to deliver.

This year it was more than ready, thanks to planning, midnight oil and extra work by employees such as "iron man consultant" Andrei Chakhovskoi, who earned the nickname for being enthusiastic and cheerful with caller after caller for 11 hours straight.

Each March, parts of Information and Educational Technology brace for a surge in service contacts as undergraduate applicants learn if they've been admitted for the fall. This year's applicants were told to check the site starting March 15.

If they had already created a MyAdmissions account, they just needed their password; if they hadn't created an account, they needed to. If they required help, they called.

Translation: On March 15, IT Express fielded more than 1,000 phone calls and the MyAdmissions site added 6,548 new accounts--almost 3,000 more than it had ever been able to handle in one day before.

The collaboration between IET and Undergraduate Admissions is key to making the notifications work, said Brian Alexander, associate director of technology in the Admissions office. It's important that applicants have a good experience with MyAdmissions, he said, and with creating their account.

"This notification cycle," Alexander added, "has been the best in recent years."

Applicants can create their own account online, and call when something goes awry, said Mark Stinson, client services manager in IET's Data Center and Client Services. The vast majority of callers had simply forgotten their passwords. The average call was handled in about a minute; the average call delay for the entire day was 26 seconds.

Credit the accomplishment to planning, extra staffing, and shifts that were extended until midnight, plus a new phone recording setup which tells curious parents that law and campus policy don't allow them to access their child's account. The new setup minimizes the impact of those calls, which have increased significantly in recent years.

"The combination of the staffing, phone tree with the 'parent notice,' changes to the tools used by help desk staff, and the fact that the systems held up under the huge load, all contributed to the day's success," Stinson said.

That, and contributions from IET employees including Ann Mansker, Sarah Spurr, Hampton Sublett, Jay Lee, Mike Waid, Derrik Arenal and Deborah Lauriano--and Chakhovskoi. Stinson said the IT Express consultant was cheerful, enthusiastic and just didn't wear out despite averaging more than one phone call every two minutes, all day long.

"At 11 p.m.," Stinson said, "Andrei sounded the same as if it had been his first call."