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How to Start Texting College Students – SMS Marketing for Universities

Published: Jul 15, 2022

The need for SMS marketing for universities stems from a behavioral change in the student population; As they transition from school to college, they come into newfound independence from their parents. 

This independence is glaringly obvious in how these adolescents expect communication. They expect communication directly from their university instead of going via their parents.

The students also want the communication to be quick and non-intrusive. That is why text messaging is the perfect way to reach them, and universities worldwide are scrambling to adopt it.

In this post, we will specifically look at how your university can use SMS marketing to meaningfully engage and interact with students.

Why opt for texting college students?

When you are already using emails to communicate and also have notices up on your university website, texting college students can seem redundant.

However, that is not the case. Here is why your university should adopt sms marketing at the earliest.

Texts are immediate

90% of all texts are read within 15 minutes. That means you waste no time getting information to students.

Texts are better accessible

Text messaging can reach anyone with access to a mobile phone, And 91% of Americans have a mobile phone at hand at all hours of the day.

Texts are more effective

Text messages have a 98% open rate, while for email, it ranges from 15-22%. Since most modern college students are used to texting each other, they will be acquainted with using it as a communication medium.

How can universities start texting college students?

Here are some ways you can universities can use text messages to communicate with students:

Send them reminders for appointments

Students often have a lot on their plates. For older students, coursework takes up a lot of mental space. For newer students, getting used to a new lifestyle takes time, especially if they relocated to attend college from out of town.

Sending updates through SMS to remind them of simple appointments, such as a meeting with an admissions counselor, can ensure that they take some time for it in their busy schedule.

Student recruitment


University admissions officers can use text messaging as a quick way to reach out to individuals who are interested in joining their university and leave their contact details through the channels the university has set up to find new admissions.

Communicate deadlines

Since text messages have such a high open rate, you can ensure that students are notified of important deadlines by sending them a text message. For example, you could set up a mass texting campaign informing students of the last date to register for an event.

Fee reminders


Remind busy students and parents to pay their tuition fees for the year through text messages. Text messages are not as intimidating as phone calls and can be a more friendly way to help you collect the funds necessary to keep your institution running. 

A text message is brief by nature. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to send a lot of information. One of the best ways to do this is to include a link in your text message, along with telling students briefly what they will find when they follow the link. You can even consider Shortening the URL to 

For example, send them a link to the college library’s website with a list of newly added titles.

Advertise extracurricular activities


Extracurricular activities give you an opportunity to revitalize the enthusiasm of your student body. They give students a chance to make new friends by connecting with others who have similar interests and building their real-world communication and teamwork skills. Make sure to send the word out through a far-reaching communication medium like text messaging.

Send helpful tips

While texting college students, it is important to remember that most of them would still be adjusting to a new life. So they will appreciate helpful tips and trivia about student life sent straight to their phones. These messages will help them adjust and feel like a part of the larger student community.

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Sample SMS messages for admission

The great thing about sending students updates via SMS is that there isn’t much setup required. 

All you need is your message, your contacts, and the help of a text messaging service to tie it all together.

Here are some sample SMS messages universities can use:

Admission SMS

Hello Mark, It’s John, admissions staff at UCLA. Thank you for applying! Our system is still missing the following documents: <Doc Names>. Could you upload them on the admissions portal or email them to me at [email protected]

Tuition reminder SMS

Hi Mark, This is to remind you that the last date for tuition payment is 8/16/19 for the next semester. Visit for more details. Reply to this text with any questions.

Event follow up

Hey Mark, what did you think of the MUN event? Reply to this text and let us know. We would love to hear from you.

Event/Extracurricular notice

Hi Mark. The sports club is hosting a badminton tournament next month. Anyone is welcome to sign up. Interested? Learn more by clicking on the link:

Texting college students using CallHub (it’s easy!)

Setting up and using a university SMS system is simple with CallHub. The first thing you need to do is get students to subscribe to your SMS system through an opt-in keyword:

1. Set up an opt-in keyword and shortcode


Choose the SMS Opt-in campaign on the CallHub dashboard.

To set a text alert system for universities, you need to have just two elements:

1) A keyword

2) A shortcode or long code (to act as Caller Id)


For example, ‘Text “JOIN” to 562498 for property updates and reminders.’

Here, the keyword is “JOIN,” and the number is “562498”.

You can set a keyword of your choice while setting up your university SMS system and rent a shortcode or long code from your text messaging service. If not, you can use a cell phone number as the caller ID.

Once you finish setting it up, go ahead and promote your keyword and shortcode. When people text in your keyword to the number, they will automatically be added to your database.

2. Let students know about your keyword and shortcode

Let students know about the SMS system by advertising it wherever you can:

  • Ask students and parents to sign up for your text message communications at the beginning of the admissions process.
  • Promote your shortcode and keyword on our college or university website.
  • Send it out in your email communications with students.

Now you’re all set to start sending updates straight to student’s mobile phones

3. Send your first message

You can send messages through the SMS broadcast campaign on the dashboard.

Type out the message you want to send, for example, alerting students about an event:

“Hey, Mark. The Tennis tournament starts in 2 hours! Come on down and cheer for your favorite players. See you there.”


Choose the list with the numbers of the student or parents to whom you want to send the message.

Now schedule a time you want the message to go out and hit DONE.

Sending out a group text to your students is as simple as that.


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