Exploring Enrollment

Analyzing trends in 20 years of UCLA Registrar data

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Enrolling in courses is the defining parts of the college experince, as well as one of the most anxiety-inducing. At UCLA, there are websites devoted to telling you which professors are the best, Facebook groups of students selling seats in full classes, and endless memes about enrollhent.

There is not, however, much data or public knowledge about enrollment trends at UCLA. The UCLA Registrar keeps track only of enrollment after the end of weeks three and eight, but doesn't do any tracking of which classes students to enroll in first. The Daily Bruin's Stack analyzed Winter 2020 trends over the roughly two week long enrollment period, but failed to distinguish classes by time or instructor.

In this project, I introduce a web scraper that extracted 1999–2020 Winter, Spring, and Fall quarter enrollment data from the UCLA Registrar. In addition, the scraper was run hourly from September 2019 to March 2020 in order to capture trends both during enrollment periods and the first few weeks of classes for the 2019–2020 school year. The result is the largest database of UCLA course offerings and enrollment data that I know of. In addition to answering my own questions about courses, it's my hope that this data will be illuminating to UCLA students, faculty, and administrators alike in planning for the next 20 years of classes.

This report is divided into five sections.

The first, Methodology, provides a high-level overview of the scraper and the data it collected. A link to all data used in this report, as well as the raw data scraped is provided for future analysis.

The second, How Big is a Department?, aims to answer that question: what is the biggest department at UCLA? We define "bigness" by a few metrics that lead to interesting results. An brief examination of division growth is also given to the College of Letters and Science.

The third, Class Popularity, explores the hourly enrollment data collected and attempts to quantify the popularity of a class during its enrollment period as well as the perceived difficulty of a class by exploring how many students drop the class after the quarter starts.

The fourth, Classroom Utilization, examines one of UCLA's most finite resources – campus space – and the various departments and committees that are a part of determining where and when classes happen.

The final section, Future Trends and Predictions, attempts to expand on the four previous sections and make some predictions as to what the next 20 years of enrollment at UCLA will look like.


This project was created by Nathan Smith as part of a Digital Humanities 199 independent study project, advised by Ashley Sanders Garcia.