It wasn’t easy to pull ourselves away from New Orleans’ famed alligator and crawfish dishes, but it was certainly worth it. When we weren’t eating everything in sight, we were taking in new ideas at this year’s American Association of Community College Convention.

We spoke with community college administrators from around the country to learn about their communication problems and brainstorm creative solutions for bridging these gaps. Here’s what we learned:

1. Texting is a powerful addition to guided pathway projects.

Many community colleges are moving toward implementing guided pathways for students. These programs tend to lead to more informed choices, higher graduation percentages, and smaller equity gaps by giving students specific course sequences and progress milestones. 

Incorporate these upcoming milestones and due dates into your texting strategy to keep your communications plan organized, your information timely, and your messages simple and clear.

2. Emergency alerts don’t increase engagement.

Many folks that stopped by told us about their terrible experiences trying to use their institutions’ emergency alert system as a system of engagement. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t work: the messages aren’t data-driven or personalized, they come from a shortcode number (often associated with spam messages or robotexts), and they’re one-way, so students can’t text back if they have questions. It’s frustrating for everyone.

3. There are followers and there are leaders. 

There’s no need to wait for other community colleges in your area to start texting first – especially with summer melt just around the corner. You know you need to text your students. Now is your opportunity to be the champion of change for your students and your institution. Take it!

Learn how to use texting at your community college.

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About the author: Sahil is a Business Development Associate at Signal Vine and attends quite a few conferences throughout the year Follow him on LinkedIn!