Norwalk Community College: Improving Applicant Enrollment
In Fall 2016, Norwalk Community College (NCC) conducted research on admissions and enrollment. They discovered that the school received a high number of applicants that did not end up enrolling at their institution.
Through their Title V: Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant, NCC was already looking at ways to increase retention and graduation through a comprehensive advising system for students from admissions to degree completion. As a result of the research, the Title V team partnered with student retention specialists, admissions, and the college’s foundation to increase enrollment by targeting those students already applying. Additionally, team members had learned about texting as a potential solution from a presentation on Summer Melt using the Signal Vine platform conducted by Ben Castleman and Lindsay Page.
Suzanne Lyons, the Title V coordinator conducted due diligence on texting solutions by speaking with a few state designated Higher Education Commissions who recommended Signal Vine. Suzanne and the team evaluated an additional 2-3 vendors before deciding on Signal Vine. They found that Signal Vine offered the best option for timeliness, personalization, and the ability to leverage existing data. The team appreciated that Signal Vine was developed for higher education, allowed message branching, and facilitated ongoing engagement instead of one-time mass communication.
In the fall of 2017, NCC conducted a texting pilot program to 300 prospective students and standard communications to another group of prospective students. The program included weekly messages to address placement exams, FAFSA, transcripts and immunizations, and registration.
NCC saw a student engagement rate of 77%. Additionally, of the students who were texted, 31% were more likely to complete the registration process. The texts were even more impactful for certain student subgroups. Those subgroups consisted of those from particular feeder high schools and non-citizen students. The text messages directed them to relevant information on funding their education.
Students also provided encouraging feedback on the effort, including this reply:
“I appreciate every message that I have received from NCC because they were all very helpful and they helped me apply to NCC on time and I was able to complete everything on time.”
In another campaign, students who applied late to FAFSA in the past were sent a reminder text to start early with their filing. The campaign results showed only modest text engagement rates but a significant improvement in FAFSA filings. The team found that while students may not always engage, the reminder produced the desired behavior change.
NCC has now expanded the enrollment program to over 700 new students. Subsequently, they recently launched another texting program to address retention in the coming year.
Signal Vine has played a significant role in allowing us to communicate beneficial and timely information to our students through an easy to use texting platform! We are able to personalize our text messages to students and engage with them in a way where they feel supported and able to ask for help whenever they need it!
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