Campuses are always on the lookout for the next best way to engage with their students. Campus staff try to reach students through many channels. You’ve tried social media, booths in the union, flyers, websites, one-on-one meetings, phone calls, and emails. These efforts often result in low levels of engagement. Many institutions consider texting students, as it seems to be their preferred medium. All the way back in 2009, studies reported 97% of students use texting as their primary way to communicate.
Students of all types are accessible via text. High income, low income, first generation, legacy, tech savvy, tech simple —it doesn’t matter who they are. In fact, for 18-29 year olds who own smartphones, 100% of those surveyed said they had texted in the last week.
Another study updated in January 2014 looked at low-income high school graduates. Those who received text nudges were found to be 7 to 11% more likely to matriculate, avoiding the infamous “summer melt”.
So, we’ve established that students like texting. Now what? Should you and your colleagues jump right in and open up texting without a plan? Not so fast! We saw what happened with email when we opened the floodgates. Jumping into texting without a plan could burn the medium. Texting is much more personal than email and absolutely needs to be given the proper amount of respect and planning.
There are many opportunities for departments across campus to use texting to meet their goals. Text messaging works in all areas of student engagement from orientation to graduation.
The key is to only text a student when the content of the text message is highly relevant to that student.
General announcements are not always the way to go. To help you determine what texting interventions might be appropriate at your institution, please see our communication process below.
EXAMPLE TEXTING COMMUNICATION FLOW
How you choose to implement texting at your institution will be dependent on your priorities and department structure. However, here are five simple examples that might help get your department started:
1) AT-RISK STUDENT OUTREACH
2) ADVISOR MEETING INVITATION
3) CAREER CENTER INVITATION
4) EVENT PROMOTION
5) GRADUATION ASSESSMENT
It is not a matter of IF you should be texting, but HOW. Be thoughtful about your strategy. Be certain you are staying personal, relevant, and helpful! With better communication, the hope is students will be happier, more involved, and more successful!
For an in-depth look at texting students for success, watch the Higher Ed Live episode featuring Jeff McNamara, director of student success at Carroll University. Or download the podcast: