How To Lose a Student in 7 Texts
When it comes to sending targeted, personalized text messages to students, there are several things to consider including tone, length, and the goal of the message. The last thing you want is for a student to opt out over one poorly written text, and have students miss out on all of the important communication throughout the year. Here are seven texting mistakes you could be making, and how to avoid them when communicating with students.
1. Not saying who the text is from.
A strong intro message includes who you are, from where, and why students should want texts from you (the value). It should serve as a reminder to save the number and reach out if they have questions. Assume that students won't save your number and add your name/team into the future outgoing messages. Another thing to note… you may have several people texting from the same phone number — think carefully about how you want to have students “know” that number. Hi Alicia… this is the SVU advising team, this is Jesse in Advising, or this is the SVU Student Success Team.
“Hi! Are you still interested in attending Signal Vine University?”
Try this instead:
“Hi Alicia, this is Jesse from the SVU Office of Admissions. I see that you requested information for the bio program. Are you interested in attending for the Spring semester?”
2. Overdoing it.
It may be tempting to copy and paste your entire email and send it out to the masses. I get it, the information is all really important! But beware of this, as multiple paragraphs will most likely go unread. It is best to send a message that’s to the point and under 160 characters.
A short message, properly written, can inform without overwhelming the student. Use links to enable the student to access the information directly from the text thread. A simple, “Hi Ashley, you have two weeks to complete your FAFSA renewal and unlock more aid for next year. Here is the link: Alternatively, consider imagery — walk the student through the process in one image with a series of arrows.
3. Asking me to check my email.
“I just sent you an email about registration, check your email for more information.” Not only does this message provide little information, but it forces the student to look elsewhere to figure out if the suggestion is worth their attention. Students are busy – Make it easy and relevant by providing direct links so the student can take immediate action.
Try this instead:
“Hi Haley, It’s Miguel in advising. I noticed you haven’t signed up for your classes next semester. Priority registration ends on the 31st. <<link to register>> Do you need help registering?”
4. Using old data.
Telling a student to do something they’ve already done, or suggesting options they are not eligible for, are annoying and demonstrate a lack of appreciation that the student is busy, too! Sending “You are just 18 credits away from graduating, make sure to apply for one summer class so you can graduate on time” will stress out a student that thought they had secured their credits to graduate without taking extra classes in the summer.
Use the most up to date data to ensure text messages are relevant AND timely. The added benefit is that when the student responds and says “I already registered,” you can go in and see why they think they have completed the task, but actually haven't. “It looks like you chose your classes in your cart, but you have to hit submit.
5. YELLING AT ME!
Typing in all caps or inserting too many periods gives the impression that you are not friendly or don’t know how to text. Writing in capital letters is often interpreted as shouting, which can catch the student off guard and infer that they did something wrong. Consider using imagery (or emojis!) to drive excitement and urgency.
Rather than saying:
“Hello JASON. Registration for the summer study abroad work program ENDS TODAY. Complete this action NOW or lose your spot!”
Try this instead:
Try this instead:
Hi Jason, registration for the summer study abroad work program is on Friday. I noticed you haven't registered yet. Are you planning on it?
Texting is a relationship. It is balancing information with timeliness and the cadence of the learning journey makes it easy to map ongoing messaging to ensure that students are consistently getting messaging. Add Drop, early warnings, pre-registration clearance, registration, semester end. Try to reach out and touch the student every two weeks by either prompting them to take action or checking in on how things are going. Remember — automation is your friend.
7. Ignore me.
When a student writes in, respond. That’s all. You can use automation and push them to a phone number, use a link and push them to an appointment scheduler, or just start responding. It doesn’t have to be instantaneous, but within the next business day, give them something to enable a response. It is important that if you are responding to students outside of business hours, you either plan to always do it or that you caveat the response so as to set the expectation. Nothing is worse than getting a response at 10p on Thursday and then nothing again until next week.
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