Summer Enrollment Update

January 19th, 2024

Dear KSS Families and Supporters,

We absolutely empathize and share in your frustrations for the enrollment system crash that happened for our Discovery Camp families again this week as well as the system crash last week and apologize for the inconvenience and challenges this caused some of you. We are very pleased that enrollments for Summit Day Camp, Day Camp, Pathfinders and Adventures went off without a single problem on Wednesday and we were able to get the system back online within an hour for the last group. We received 2,684 enrollments of our total 2,776 enrollment capacity  and an additional 1,350 waitlist submissions in a matter of hours. Some programs were full with a waitlist within minutes. The interest in the KSS programs is truly overwhelming and very exciting.

There seem to be some points of confusion for which we would like to provide more context and information. This year’s enrollment process was planned the same as previous years on the backend and we are using the same enrollment software platform that we have been using for several years. Our staff planned and prepared for months leading up to enrollment opening to ensure it was a smooth and accurate process. The KSS staff is very knowledgeable and skilled at using this software platform and were in no way responsible for the system failures we experienced.

Last year we piloted a process to allow returning families to enroll the day prior to the full open enrollment. Unfortunately, this process caused more difficulties than benefits for many families and put families with Kindergarten aged children (not previously eligible to enroll at KSS) and families new to the community at a significant disadvantage. In addition, this process did not work because many returning families chose to share the early enrollment codes they were provided to other people they knew which created additional challenges regarding equitable access to enrollment.  Lastly, this process proved to be less equitable because returning families with higher financial means and able to pay larger up-front deposits signed their campers up for multiple weeks knowing they did not want all the weeks but wanted extra time to figure out the rest of their family’s summer schedule. This caused programs to be fully enrolled with waitlists before others were able to get access, including other returning families.

In the past at KSS, once enrollment was opened, campers enrolled over the course of months, and this year we reached over 90% of total enrollment capacity in minutes. This is not due to the enrollment process changing, it is mainly due to increased awareness of the outstanding KSS programs and the lack of high-quality summer childcare in the community. The volume of families logging in at the same time to enroll in Discovery Camp on Wednesday caused the system to crash for the noon enrollment opening period. After last week’s system failure, the software developer advised that we adjust our filters, manually process enrollments, and stagger enrollment openings to reduce the load on the system which we did. We were assured after triple-checking with the developers on Tuesday, that the second opening would not have any challenges.

We pride ourselves on providing the best service we can to our families and are devastated that this process has fallen woefully short of this goal. We are currently manually processing over 2,000 individual enrollments so that we can provide a more accurate picture of our remaining enrollment capacity and waitlist standings to our families. Until we complete this manual process, we are not able to provide more information on enrollment or waitlist status. 

We agree that the enrollment opening process this year was unacceptable. We are re-evaluating how we will open enrollment in the future and working on ways to engage our community and seek constructive feedback to ensure that our future enrollment processes are aligned with the needs of our families and provide the most equitable access to our programs as is possible. Due to the size of our campus and number of dorms available, there is a limit on the number of programs we can provide which results in disappointment for many campers and families. Even if the Discovery Camp enrollments had gone smoothly, the number of families and campers who were not able to enroll in the program(s) they wanted would still have been a disappointment for many.

Everyone here at KSS would like to thank you once again for your continued support and interest in our summer programs and to also apologize for the stress faced throughout this process. We assure you that this year’s enrollment process is not a reflection of the quality of the programs we provide. It is only one small piece of a much bigger plan that allows us to have 2,800 program sessions filled with campers this summer! We will continue to learn from this situation, revise what is in our control for enrollments in the future and listen to your constructive ideas and feedback for improvements. 

Sincerely and with gratitude,

Kim Krebs
Keystone Science School