The Community College of Vermont: Enhancing Campus-Wide Communication
The Community College of Vermont is the state’s second-largest college. It serves roughly 7,000 students across 12 campuses and online each semester. In 2017, the Winooski campus piloted a texting program with Signal Vine in three offices: Front Desk Staff, Advising, and Financial Aid. Today, the college supports students across campuses from the time they apply to the day they graduate. The Community College of Vermont uses Signal Vine to keep students on track for graduation by using a campus-wide communication plan.
Staff at the Community College of Vermont found it difficult to keep students engaged and on track to graduate. It was time-consuming to call and email students every day, and students simply weren’t responding. Staff knew that students wanted texts over other forms of outreach. However, implementing a campus-wide communication strategy based on texts sounded daunting.
The Director of Admissions at CCV, Adam Warrington, led the charge on campus-wide texting. He first introduced the idea to a cross-functional think tank group at the college that focuses on special tech projects. To kick things off, group members read The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and Other Behavioral Strategies Can Improve Education by Ben Castleman. The book describes how applying behavioral economics insights to student outreach can help students make decisions and improve their educational outcomes.
As the conversation continued, Adam realized that other colleges used texting almost solely in the admissions process. It seemed that most texting solutions were designed for this type of one-department use. In order to have streamlined communication across all departments, CCV needed an enterprise solution that many staff from many departments could use. In the spring of 2017, staff in the Front Desk, Advising, and Financial Aid Offices started using Signal Vine to communicate with students. Piloting the program in just a few departments on their main campus paved the way for a smooth transition later that year when CCV rolled it out to more campuses and their online student population.
Text messages now reach most students at the Community College of Vermont. Nearly 90% of students provide their phone number when applying for admission. Students and staff talk more frequently now. Also, staff find that texting helps them keep students on track.
CCV staff have saved countless hours since switching to text message outreach. Staff use Signal Vine’s Blended Messaging® feature to target students with automated, AI-powered text message nudges that prompt students to complete crucial tasks. Then, staff can focus their time and efforts on students who need more help.
To use Blended Messaging®, the Community College of Vermont uses student data from its student information system. Staff enhances messages by using student data to segment the audience of each message and add personalization. It’s an easy way for users to target the right students at the right time with the right message.
In the fall of 2017, 1,116 applicants did not enroll in any classes. Half of of these students were given the option to defer to another semester via email and the other half were given the option via text. Check out the results below.
In the world of community colleges, there are so many different hurdles that get in the way of someone actually enrolling and persisting in their college education, that any tiny barrier we can get rid of is quality work.
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