Utah Valley University: Improve First Generation and First-Year Student Engagement
Utah Valley University is a public university with just under 40,000 students in enrollment, the largest university in the state of Utah. In 2018, Marcy Glassford, Director, First-Year Experience and Retention was introduced to the Signal Vine team at the First Year Experience Conference and began using Signal Vine to cut through the noise and increase their first-year student engagement and retention.
The first-year experience (FYE) and retention team at Utah Valley University wanted a better way to engage with students. The team found that freshman were overwhelmed and unresponsive to email. The first generation student segment was particularly overwhelmed and presented a retention risk. The FYE and retention team knew that texting would be a great solution but had to overcome initial hesitation within the University to begin.
Marcy and the team created three primary student segments to begin texting, first-generation students, freshman students at large and a freshman advocate group they would use to help engage new students. The team structured two different communication paths breaking out first-generation students from the broader student population. They used these communication paths to communicate with students before they arrived on campus to ensure they were registered, had the pertinent financial aid details, and started acclimating to student life. The programs followed these paths:
First Generation Students
All Freshman Year Students
The team saw great initial engagement results and continues to monitor retention performance to measure impact. The freshman first generation student segment had an engagement rate of 70% with many students asking questions before reaching campus. The broader freshman group had a lower engagement rate at 7-8% but the team found that while students did not respond they were following the nudges and saving numbers to communicate throughout the year and beyond. In addition, the team saw some great qualitative feedback from students and proof that the texting nudges helped surface issues that impact retention.
Signal Vine has been instrumental in helping our team reach students effectively so that they are engaged and set up for success in their first-year. We believe the impact will add to our retention and help us engage with students in new ways.
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