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Category: School Texting

How Colleges Can Use Texting to Stay Engaged with Students, Staff & Faculty During a Crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the higher education industry like never before. This is the first time we have seen a mass closure of campuses all around the U.S. and the world.

With students, faculty, and staff all shifting their classes online and working remotely for the unforeseeable future, it’s more important than ever to have an immediate and reliable channel for communication.

Schools are now shifting their work and curriculum through digital channels. We are very fortunate to be living in a time where we have various options for communication. For colleges and universities, every digital form of communication must be deployed to keep classes going and communication flowing between students, parents and staff.

Text messaging is one form of communication that is essential in our daily lives. This is especially true for the younger generation of students as two thirds of incoming college students and their parents find text messages with key information or important dates helpful (University Business).

Texting can improve communication with students as well as internal staff and faculty. The versatility of texting for one-way mass notifications as well as two-way conversations makes communication quick and efficient.

 

Here is how colleges and universities can engage students, staff and faculty during a crisis like Covid-19:

 

Creating a Text Communication Plan

If a school has never texted with students and staff before, it’s important to plan out how texting will be used for communication during a crisis. By simply sending out a mass text message to students and staff without proper warning and context, it may cause confusion and frustration.

Before sending text messages, identify what information will be sent and how will the recipients benefit from it. By segmenting your audience between students, faculty and staff as well as the different categories within each segment, you can be targeted in your message and not come across as an annoyance.

Promoting your text communication will be an important part of planning. In order for students and staff to know that text communication is available, it needs to be promoted in various ways including email, website, voicemail greeting, and social media.

 

Whether you are planning on using texting for one-way notifications, two-way texting, or both, make sure you use and promote the type of phone number that is appropriate for each as short code phone numbers are meant for mass text messages whereas long code numbers are used for one-to-one conversational messaging. (Learn more about short code vs. long code)

 

Sending Text Updates and Alerts

If you are planning on sending one-way text notifications, using a short code phone number along with a keyword makes it easy for people to opt in to receive your messages. Short codes are 5 to 6-digit phone numbers that are used to send mass text messages.

If you try to use a long code to send a mass message to hundreds or thousands of people, mobile carriers will most likely flag it as spam and potentially block the message from being sent. This will not happen with short codes as they are designated for sending large volume of messages.

 

There are a variety of text message notifications that can be sent to students, faculty and staff to keep them informed. These include:

  • Online class schedules
  • Virtual event reminders
  • School closure updates
  • Assignment due dates
  • Exam dates
  • Learning resources
  • Quarantine tips
  • New Covid-19 case updates
  • Emergency alerts
  • Motivational messages
  • Admissions registration reminders
  • New program announcements
  • Financial aid reminders

 

Having Two-way Text Conversations

Keeping in contact with students and staff can help reduce the effects of social distancing and isolation as everyone is craving for interaction during this time.

Using a long code phone number or enabling your existing school phone number for texting allows schools to have two-way text conversations with students and staff. Long code numbers are traditional 10-digit phone numbers that people are used to calling, but can also be used for one-to-one texting.

By allowing students and staff to text in with their questions and concerns, school administrators can create a more efficient way for communication and get questions answered faster than phone calls or emails.

When utilizing two-way texting, it’s important for school administrators to create a schedule for staff/faculty from different departments to respond. This ensures that when people are texting in with their questions, the right person is able to respond quickly.

For example, you can divide the schedule up with AM and PM shifts where different personnel are monitoring and responding throughout the day. For messages received after operating hours, autoresponders can be set up to reply to messages letting people know their message will be responded the next morning.

 

Two-way texting is beneficial for students and staff looking to get a quick answer without having to call or send an email. Some popular use cases for two-way texting include:

 

  • General school questions: Enable students and staff to ask administrators questions about overall school schedules, online class availability and office hour schedules.
  • Counselor questions: Allow students to ask questions to their counselors about selecting classes for next semester, dealing with financial aid, finding career opportunities as well as general guidance on adjusting to life outside of campus and how to manage this situation.
  • Class specific questions: Students can text professors or their assistants with questions about a specific topic, assignment or upcoming exam.

 

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Having designated office hours for students to have one-on-one engagement with professors is extremely important for student success during this time of isolation. Web conferencing is a great way to achieve this, but it’s limited to how many students can participate at once. By offering texting during office hours, it enables professors to communicate with multiple students at once at a one-on-one level and get more questions answered.

 

Summary

Currently, there is no definitive time for when colleges and universities will open again. However, schools need to continue, and effective communication is critical to ensure the safety and success of both faculty and students during this time. Utilizing text messaging as an additional communication channel can help better inform everyone about updates and create an open line of communication that we all need right now.

 

If you would like to talk a higher education texting expert at TrueDialog, SCHEDULE A DEMO or SIGN UP FOR FREE TRIAL TODAY!

Success Story: Davidson County Community College Increases Student Engagement and Boosts Enrollment with Messaging

Introduction

Colleges and universities are facing many obstacles when it comes to recruitment and enrollment. Rapid growth in free online-based learning courses along with shifts in communication preferences are contributing to these challenges. In this case study, learn how Davidson County Community College (DCCC) increased response rates from prospective students and boosted enrollment with TrueDialog.

 

About Davidson County Community College

Davidson County Community College provides innovative and equitable learning experiences to empower individuals, transform lives, and prepare students for enhanced career and educational opportunities within a changing global community. DCCC is a public community college with campuses in Davidson County and Davie County, North Carolina and awards certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in more than 50 programs.

 

The Challenge

As a seasoned recruiter and admissions counselor at Davidson County Community College (DCCC), Paul Riley understands the importance of communication and relationship building when it comes to recruiting new students.

“As a recruiter, it’s becoming harder to reach potential students. My phone calls, voicemails and even emails are mostly getting ignored,” said Paul.

 

During one interaction with a prospective student, Paul asked if he received the emails that were sent to him. The student replied, “Sorry but I never check my emails and I have over a thousand unread emails in my inbox right now!”

While working with the head of admissions to develop a plan to increase enrollment at DCCC, Paul brought up the idea of utilizing text messaging as they were exploring different tools to help with better engagement.

Paul had previous experience using texting for school communication internally and decided to test it at DCCC to help improve communication with prospective students and build a better relationship with them early in the recruiting process.

 

 

The Solution

After evaluating several text message solutions, Paul decided to partner with TrueDialog due to the company’s experience working with colleges and universities, enabling DCCC to scale. Paul was also pleased with the platform’s reliability and the ability to send mass notifications as well as engage in two-way dialog with students for Q&A. These were all important factors to Paul as he knew exactly what he needed and TrueDialog was a perfect match.

Soon after launching the texting program at DCCC, Paul encouraged students to give him permission to text them with additional information about DCCC’s programs by having them sign interest cards after giving presentations at high schools. Paul also saw an opportunity to promote texting through other channels including social media ads, billboards and their website.

The flexibility of TrueDialog’s solution enabled Paul to leverage texting in several ways. These include using short code numbers to quickly send out mass text messages about program information, financial aid information, campus events and more.

Two-way texting was enabled for students to ask questions about the school and available programs, schedule campus tours, as well as help prospective students get through the application process more quickly. Paul found that students were more responsive when texting from a local number.

Marketing messages were also sent to high school students (who opted in) informing them of DCCC’s Career & College Promise Program, where qualified high school students can take college level courses at DCCC free of charge while providing credits that can be transferred after graduation.

Overall, both mass texting and 2-way texting has helped Paul answer questions faster and help students get through hurdles in the admissions process by engaging over text messaging.

 

 

The Results

After using TrueDialog for only a few months, Paul has already seen a huge improvement in response rates from prospective students wanting to learn more about enrolling at DCCC.

Through texting with prospective students, Paul is seeing about a 50% response rate from text messages, a 20-fold increase from email response rates of about 1-2%.

“By making the experience quick and convenient with texting, we are seeing more engagement from students which is helping us build better relationships with them”. Paul explained. “Even with newly enrolled students, whenever they have a question, the first thing they do is text me.”

 

In addition to seeing great response rates, using TrueDialog has also improved Paul’s productivity when it comes to student communication. Instead of having to spend hours leaving voicemails and writing follow up emails, texting has reduced the need for those repetitive tasks as students are responding more quickly and more often to the first text messages thus eliminating the need for repeat communications. TrueDialog’s automation and personalization features are also helping Paul create personal connections with students at scale.

After seeing the positive impact texting has had on student communications, Paul plans to expand the usage of TrueDialog to other departments such as Financial Aid.

 

Summary

Students today have many options for college. Texting enables schools to better communicate and provide the necessary resources and assistance that students need to make a confident decision. Schools that develop a relationship with prospective students early in the process can get ahead of the competition and boost enrollment.

 

(DOWNLOAD SUCCESS STORY PDF)

If you would like to talk a higher education texting expert at TrueDialog, SCHEDULE A DEMO or SIGN UP FOR FREE TRIAL TODAY!

How Colleges Use Texting to Increase Student Enrollment and Improve Retention

The higher education industry has changed over the last several years and the change is negatively affecting new enrollments and graduation rates. Both metrics impact revenue and are crucial to growth and survival for any college or university.

According to a 2018 prediction by the late Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, 50% of colleges and universities will close or go bankrupt in the next ten to fifteen years and the Dept. of Education recently sponsored a study that concluded that the closure rate for small colleges and universities will triple in the coming years.

To back up the prediction, statistics showed a 1.3% decline in college enrollment in the fall of 2019, a drop of more than 231,000 students from 2018. Add that to an average 40 percent dropout rate, higher education institutions of all types need to find ways to improve performance.

Demographic shifts, rapid growth in online education, free internet-based learning options, industry innovation and a fully mobile-centric student base are all contributing to these challenges.

Leading colleges and universities (both private and public) are attacking these issues head on with strategic investments and operational improvements. These include investing in instructional design to upgrade course content, embracing online educational options, using technology to lower operating costs, and implementing systems that are fully set up for today’s mobile environment including mobile communications with potential and existing students.

Today’s students manage their entire lives through their phones. As a result, text messaging has become an essential tool to engage and communicate with students and prospects in real-time to increase enrollment, improve retention, and produce higher graduation rates. Over 97% of text messages are read in 3 minutes or less – nothing else compares. Universities must implement enterprise-grade, scalable texting systems to effectively interact with today’s students.

The best messaging platforms allow university administrators to create instant 2-way conversations as well as mass notifications to remind students and prospects about deadlines and other important university information. The fastest growing universities use text messaging to increase response rates in admissions, retention, student services, financial aid, career services and alumni relations.

 

Here’s how colleges and universities are using text messaging to increase student enrollment and improve retention.

 

Mass Text Message Notifications

Sending text message notifications and alerts ensures students see urgent or time-sensitive information. According to University Business, two-thirds of incoming college students and their parents find text messages with key information or important dates helpful.

Mass text message notifications require short codes (5-6 digit shortened phone numbers) instead of long codes (normal 10 digit phone numbers). Short codes are special numbers designated by wireless carriers to send large numbers of simultaneous text messages for urgent alerts, opt-in sms marketing campaigns and other mass notifications. Using long codes for mass texting will cause messages to be flagged and blocked as spam.

 

Below are some examples of mass text notifications that colleges are sending to their students. These notifications can be streamlined yet personalized by inserting unique student information (eg. name, appointment date, interests) when a texting platform is integrated with a CRM or SIS.

 

Application Reminders

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With so many applications to fill out and deadlines to remember, it’s easy for prospective students to forget when certain forms are due. Make it easy for students by sending them text message reminders with due dates. Be sure to include links within the message to allow quick access and on-time completion.

 

New Student Orientation Notifications

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-orientation

Orientation events help newly enrolled students succeed. To ensure new students attend all necessary orientation classes and events, send text message notifications a day or two before, as well as the morning of the event.

 

Campus Tour Reminders

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-tour

It takes significant effort and marketing dollars to finally get prospective students interested in visiting your school, so it is absolutely critical to make sure they actually attend.  Text message reminders with dates, times and addresses can dramatically increase attendance and reduce no show rates. Keep in mind that prospective students may have signed up for several campus tours, so make sure they go to yours with a quick reminder.

 

Scholarship Opportunities

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-scholarships

Scholarships capture the interest of prospective students. Send prospects a quick text message to show scholarship options and ensure they see the financial incentives available for your university.

 

School Event Notifications

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-events

Build a sense of community with students by promoting school events. Text message reminders have immediate impact and produce proven results to boost event attendance.

 

Career Fair Notifications

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-career-fair

Accreditors require universities and colleges to publish job placement rates and this has become a critical metric that parents and students review when selecting a college. Set your students up for success by sending them text message notifications for upcoming career fairs & events. Increase attendance and help students can get ahead of the curve by meeting potential employers, learning about the interview process, exploring internships and finding the right job before they graduate.

 

Campus Emergency Alerts

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-campus-alerts

Student and staff safety is the number one priority for any school. Whether it’s a school closure due to construction or an emergency on campus, make sure your SMS provider can quickly send out mass text message alerts on a short code. When it comes to emergencies, every second counts.

 

Marketing Messages

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-marketing-promotion

Remind prosepective students who have shown interest in your school by sending them a promotional message that highlight the benefits of enrolling. Keep the message short and allow prospective students to easily learn more by responding to the message.

 

Two-way Text Conversations

Texting is conversational by nature, so leverage this personal communication channel to engage with students and increase their chance for success. A texting research study by Lindsay Page and Ben Castleman on Summer Melt found that 86% of students reported text messages prompted them to complete a task they hadn’t finished.

When texting with students one-to-one, long codes are recommended to enable both voice and text conversations over phone numbers that are familiar to the student.

 

Admissions Questions

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-admissions

When prospective students research schools, they often have questions. Make it easy by sending a text instead of gettting lost in their email or with an unanswered call. By losing valuable time, prospective students may have already moved on to another choice. Let students know they can text you by promoting your phone number on your website, emails, flyers and other marketing materials. Also, include an easy click-to-call button in your text message.

 

Counselor Check-ins

University-School-Text-Messaging-Example-counselor-checkin

Going from high school to college is a big change for students. Counselors who show they care about their students’ success and overall experience can increase retention and graduation rates. Good counselors send frequent text messages to their students to check in and find out if there is anything they can do to help or improve their experience.

 

Class Questions

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Students may have questions they either forgot or were too shy to ask in class. Enable a more open line of communication between students and professors by allowing them to text specific questions they may have about the class. This can help develop a better relationship between students and professors, and improve class performance.

 

Summary

When it comes to communication, nothing is quicker and more convenient than texting for today’s mobile-centric students. This article provides only a few of the many ways colleges and universities are leveraging text messaging to boost enrollment, improve retention, increase graduation rates, and improve each student’s overall experience.

 

If you would like to talk a higher education texting expert at TrueDialog, SCHEDULE A DEMO or SIGN UP FOR FREE TRIAL TODAY!

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