Golden West College: Positive and Consistent Messaging Builds Trust
Golden West College is a community college in Huntington Beach, CA and one of three institutions that make up the Coast Community College District (CCCD). With almost 13,000 students, Golden West College deployed Signal Vine in their Academic Counseling, Athletics, CaMP, DSPS, Enrollment Services, EOPS, Financial Aid, Global and Cultural Programs, and Testing units in 2020.
Like so many institutions, COVID sped Golden West College’s need to communicate more efficiently with students as they were moving into pandemic conditions.
“We were trying to figure out how to reach students,” explained Dr. Robyn Brammer, Dean of Counseling and Social Sciences at Golden West College. “They weren’t answering email and the application-based texting product we had available was only one way.”
Their early alert system was too people intensive. Having staff dialing phone numbers via one click at a time took too long and misused the valuable staff resources. Moving early alerts to Signal Vine enabled staff to simply reach students who received an early alert to offering connection and support.
“We learned immediately that negative or neutral messages were ignored, but positive messages were 10x more likely to be responded to and appreciated.”
Positive nudges were sent to every student who received an early alert for math and English. Golden West College found students were not only significantly more likely to finish the class but also came back the next semester.
The Super User
The Golden West College team has found that students are okay with waiting for a response but want a response within a 2–8-hour time frame. To support a goal of responding to every text within the next business day, she set up a group of counselors as “super users.” These individuals understand the power of texting, enjoy it and respond to student replies and inquiries to get them redirected.
Signal Vine helps leaders coach their teams with insights into how and when staff are responding. It is also a powerful training tool.
Available… when needed
Some students will respond to messages with peripherally related questions or after several weeks. Based on the insights generated from those conversations, Brammer is confident that without that intermittent support, those students would not have persisted.
“The message sent is less relevant than the fact that the message was sent,” states Brammer, “so we are committed to follow up with students when they are ready to respond….and it’s not unusual that students will respond to a message about a completely different topic — because we have built the relationship and their trust.”
“We have lots of technology options on campus, but Signal Vine provides functionality that I haven’t seen on other platforms.” Two things that Dr. Brammer particularly appreciates on Signal Vine is the ability to easily upload niche reports to personalize niche reports and the ability to align their communication with their case management style.
Golden West College delivers a different campaign each week to students nudging, supporting, and encouraging students through their learning journey. It is not uncommon for a student to not respond for several weeks and then respond when they have an issue top of mind.
They now can estimate how much time staff need to be available. They consistently see traffic that is 50% in the first hour, 25% in the second hour, and then about 5% respond 2 months later… ‘does this still impact me?’ “For many students, that follow up a month or more later, is the difference between them persisting and not.
Students will text back when they hear relevant, valuable information. However, you must have enough data to make it relevant to them as an individual. “Only send a note that is personal. We heard repeatedly, ‘I was so annoyed with the general message.’ We had sent them the general information, but students were not reading it, so by making it more personalized to them tying in their major or progress to completion, they would read it and say, ‘Thank you b/c I didn’t know.’
If you’re inspired by Golden West College’s methods to respond to students and want to explore texting’s potential in your organization, read this blog on Communication for Colleges Returning in the Fall. Or, if you’re interested in learning more about Signal Vine, request a demo.
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