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5 Ideas for Texting First-Year Students

by Paige Altieri | September 27, 2018
5 Ideas for Texting First-Year Students

Depending on when your campus started classes, we’re about a month into the new school year. Students and staff are settled in and excited for a fresh start and new opportunities. The start of a new semester is a crucial time to keep communication flowing between staff and students - especially first-year students. When you make connections with students at the beginning of the year, they will continue to grow and strengthen as time goes on, helping everyone reach the ultimate goal, graduation

We all know the best and most efficient way to communicate with students is through texting, so maybe you need help coming up with texting ideas for your first-year students this semester. Do not fear! We have come up with some ideas for you.

Note that the conversations below are not real but are based on similar exchanges that have taken place on Signal Vine’s platform.

Texting first-year students: getting started

First-year students are experiencing everything college for the first time. It’s a whole new world for them, and for most, it’s the first time they are truly on their own. You want your first-year students to feel connected to your institution so that they’ll think of their new campus as home. These simple and easy texts will help you to increase student engagement, and as a result, improve persistence rates.

Example 1:

Hi Sam, this is your advisor, Kevin. Did you know there is a BBQ for all freshman today at the Pine Court? It’s a great opportunity to meet your fellow classmates!

We have seen these types of messages work great. It creates action and is very personable, which increases the chances that a student will respond. It also brings awareness to events happening on campus. These types of messages are very important for first-year students, especially ones that have been struggling to meet new people.

Example 2:

Hi Jessica, this is Megan your peer mentor! I was a first-year student not too long ago and can answer any questions you have as you get settled into your first semester.

When peer mentors text first-year students they can build relationships that are different than advisor relationships. The peer mentor has lived through a very similar experience and because the peer mentee is new to the experience, a deeper relationship can form. This has been proven to help students form stronger relationships with their mentors. 

Example 3:

Hi Henry, this is Toni, your advisor! I wanted to check in and see how your classes were going and if you had any questions!

This question is a very specific question and can be targeted to those students that need more support. A typical response could be a student asking for access to a tutor or info on adding/dropping a class.

What to text your first-year first-generation students

Now let’s talk about your first-year students who are also first-generation. First-generation students’ experiences are truly first-hand to them and to their family. Being the first of their family to attend college, they really do not have a strong college foundation from the get-go or have family examples to follow.

It’s known that first-generation students enroll and graduate at lower rates, and therefore are automatically at a disadvantage when compared to non-first generation students. Unfortunately, a lot of these students don’t have the help or guidance  they need to make college-going decisions. This is why communicating with them - both efficiently and effectively - is extremely important. These students need access to resources, and the best way to do that is to send it to them directly on their phones. It’s important to regularly check in on these students, especially at the start of the year. See examples for first-generation students below.

Example 4:

Hi David, I hope you are enjoying yourself at SVU so far! My name is Michelle and I am with the first-year office. Wanted to see how your first few weeks were going and if you had any questions about your tuition bill?

Introducing yourself and making connections with first-generation students is extremely important at the start of the year. Letting these students know they can use you as a resource is very effective. Again, this is a very targeted question. Chances are these students do not have a lot of support or resources when it comes to tasks like tuition. 

Example 5:

Hi David. Will you be attending the first-generation welcome party in the Miller building tonight? There will be games and pizza! You can meet other first-gen students.

Lastly, it can be difficult to get first-generation students to participate in campus activities. Sending reminders like this will nudge them to participate. 

Did you know only 26% of students are college ready when graduating high school? First-year students are the best predictor of future graduation rates schools have. It's important for retention to provide that engaging experience and there is no better way to engage and nudge your students than through the channel they use most- texting. 

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How is nudge technology being used in higher education?
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