BFIT: Engaging Students Through Texting
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) is a private, non-profit technical college based in Boston, Massachusetts, that was started with a bequest from Benjamin Franklin and a gift from Andrew Carnegie. Founded in 1908, BFIT is one of New England’s oldest colleges that offers technology programs. The college’s focused STEM degree programs are designed to respond to the Massachusetts skills shortage by educating Greater Boston’s diverse, urban youth for well-paying jobs in today’s high-demand industries.
BFIT staff noted three main challenges they faced in communicating with students. First, students were simply not checking their emails or voicemails. In fact, students complained about finding voicemails on their phones.
Next, the BFIT team found that there was no easy way to communicate with students during the admissions process. They knew that students needed information in a timely manner as they progressed through the process. Students confirmed their desire for relevant information to keep them on track. However, staff lacked a proper channel to provide this direction given that emails and voicemails were not working.
Finally, staff desired a way to support students all the way through their second year of college. The BFIT admissions team realized that to truly support students, the team would need to use a medium that the students preferred. While students complained about receiving voicemails, they requested that staff turn to texting. With this, admissions staff had a game plan and turned to Signal Vine for help in reaching their students.
The admissions department led the effort in implementing the Signal Vine platform. The first messages the team designed focused on tuition, enrollment, and next steps. Then, admissions staff used the platform to announce events such as orientation and open houses. The team also used Signal Vine to send students reminders about school closures and holiday breaks.
Staff found that they were engaging students through texting. As a result, staff took their messaging a step further and used the platform to nudge students to complete various steps. For example, some texts asked students if they had filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Others asked if students had taken their placement assessments and provided instructions for students who needed them. From there, the admissions staff broadened their scope of texts to include nudges for students to submit missing documents to the school and to find scholarships.
Just a year after implementing the Signal Vine platform, BFIT staff noted a 50 percent engagement rate with students via texting. They have also increased their staff capacity as automated texts give staff more time to spend elsewhere while also providing students with needed info. Enrollment increased for five straight semesters after the implementation of the Signal Vine platform.
Texting has proven to be so effective for the admissions team that other departments have also chosen to text students. Now, the student affairs, career services, dual enrollment, financial aid, and student accounts offices text students alongside the admissions office.
To learn more about BFIT’s texting program and best practices for engaging students through texting as they journey through the admissions funnel, check out the webinar.
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