How is your college dealing with the dreaded summer melt?
Do your admissions counselors cross their fingers and hope to hear from those students who pay a deposit to attend but never show up in the fall? Or do they spend hours reaching out to students with little to show for all their hard work?
If your school is looking for a way to increase enrollment, improve the efficiency of admissions, and strengthen communications with admitted and confirmed students, you may want to consider using a text messaging service.
Using text message marketing, colleges and universities are not only decreasing their admissions gaps, they’re also keeping students in the loop and raising awareness for upcoming school events throughout the year.
Before we get to all those perks, let’s begin with the biggest benefit of switching to a text-based strategy: improving the efficiency of your enrollments.
#1: Use Text Blasts to Increase Enrollment & Improve Efficiency
Despite being accepted, many students can’t seem to make it through the enrollment process.
Current estimates report “1 in 5 students accepted by colleges nationwide fail to show up for classes in the fall.”
And this number jumps even higher to well above 40% for low-income students.
To combat this major issue, colleges and universities are implementing what’s known as “nudging,” or a process where their admissions team guides accepted students through the enrollment process using mass texts.
With this, text message reminders are sent out to students to let them know about upcoming deadlines, especially those which are time-sensitive and related to financial aid and housing.
This strategy seems to be working as:
- 40% of confirmed students send 5 or more text messages to admissions counselors
- 80% of confirmed applicants send at least 1 or more texts
Students aren’t the only ones benefiting from text blasts either.
One financial advisor also admitted that using a text messaging service is one of his “most effective” methods for communicating with future students.
And when Presbyterian College adopted a texting program, it also boosted efficiency during the enrollment process.
Instead of having to call every potential candidate — including those who were no longer interested — one mass text to all students was delivered with instructions on where to go from there.
Admissions counselors only had to touch base with those students who were truly interested and willing to reach out.
This simple move helped Presbyterian College’s admissions team better their scheduling too.
When they used to call students and parents to schedule a time to meet, there was pressure to pick a date and time on the spot. By switching to text messages, recipients have time to check their schedules and choose a time slot that really works before replying, instead of having to cancel and reschedule one that does later.
Admissions counselors also don’t have to worry about calling people at the wrong time. Even if a text is sent out when a recipient is busy, they may still respond at their leisure.
And, as you’ll see next, there’s another reason why text messages work so well here.
#2: Stay in Touch With Students Like Never Before
Are you having a hard time hearing back from prospective students?
Despite half a dozen emails, does it feel as if your messages continue to go unnoticed?
The sad reality is they probably are.
After all, the average person sends and receives over 230 emails per day.
So if you’re not stacking replies in your inbox, it could just be that your message is hiding in a mound of other emails.
And if you’ve tried calling your prospective students, you’re likely to see an even colder response.
With Robocalls becoming the norm, many students refuse to answer phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize.
But when Kelly Walsh, the CIO for the College of Westchester implemented a text-based strategy, she discovered students “will respond to a text message, and they’ll often respond very quickly.”
This initiates “a faster back-and-forth dialogue,” as Walsh puts it, and ensures students get the help they need in time.
So encourage the dialogue by sending text blasts that prompt students to send over any questions they have via text.
Since it’s a personal and private form of communication, students will feel more comfortable asking questions and you’ll reduce your chances of the summer melt.
#3: Answer Frequently Asked Questions
As part of your text message marketing strategy, it’s also a good idea to assign someone from your admissions team to handle frequently asked questions.
This person should send out an initial text blast asking prospective and confirmed students how they can be of assistance.
Then they should be available to answer these messages as quickly as possible.
It’s also helpful to send out a mass text when the same common question keeps popping up so your team doesn’t have to waste time answering this on an individual basis 100 times a day.
Text alerts can also be useful in this next situation.
#4: Send Weather, Safety, and Parking Alerts
Inclement weather in the forecast for move-in weekend? Expecting the parking lots to be filled to capacity during orientation?
You can keep current and confirmed students in the loop with the weather, parking, and safety updates via text.
This helps ease confusion for your entire campus in just a few minutes and allows everyone time to prepare for what’s going on.
Mass texts are also a great way to raise awareness and donations for your school’s events throughout the year.
#5: Promote Upcoming Events
Hosting a new student luncheon? Or a dorm meet-and-greet?
No matter what the event, if you want to drive people to it, sending group texts is the way to go.
Use these and you’ll give students a digital invite that feels just as personal as a paper invitation.
You can also use text blasts to raise awareness and donations for your school’s next charity event as well.
Be sure to space these texts out to give your subscribers enough time to add the event to their schedule without sending too many texts that you annoy them.
It’s also a smart move to keep these next principles in mind:
Before Using a Text Messaging Service, Remember These Best Practices
Mass texts can help your school increase enrollment, improve admissions efficiency, and communicate better with students, as you’ve seen in this guide.
But this is only possible if you adopt the right text message marketing strategy.
That means you should not text your students all the time and instead only send mass texts that are targeted to specific recipients.
For example, only send financial aid reminders to those who have yet to submit their paperwork rather than everyone — including those who already have. Do this and your subscribers will start tuning out all of your text messages for being irrelevant.
Your texts should also be short, to-the-point, and deliver only the most important pieces of information.
Anything else can and should be tucked away in a link at the end of your text, which interested texters can click on for more details.
Keep these principles in mind when you adopt a text-based strategy at your college or university and you should see the same positive benefits too.
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