Text Messaging Services For Schools And Universities

December 5, 2018 - 12 minutes read

In the era of cell phones and social media, schools and universities are always trying to find new ways to connect with their students, both current and prospective.

Although emails and circulars have been the standard for student communication, they have low open rates and are often overlooked. On the other hand, text messages are five times more likely to be read than an email.

It also makes it easy for institutions to share information regarding admissions, remind students about deadlines, and help students during emergencies. Thus, making it the right channel to engage students and communicate with them.

In this article, I’ll show you 8 ways in which you can use text messaging services for schools and universities to reach out to your student body.

Help Streamline Student Recruitment

When it comes to recruiting or fostering students’ engagement within your respective institution, students not only prefer to receive the necessary information via text but also want to have a personal connection with the sender.

Whether it’s a simple reminder text about availing financial aid or registering for classes or letting a student know when an event is happening, sending a personalized text makes students feel comfortable, like talking to an actual person. The more personalized the text is, the more interested the student will be in that institution, thus increasing the schools overall brand.

For example,
Hi Amanda, this is Austin from Duke University. I saw you were interested in our marketing program. Let’s discuss your goals, interests, and how our university can help you achieve them over a call. Would you be interested?

Strengthen The Admission Process

Students depend heavily on family members, friends, or high school counselors to help them get through the admission process. Without which getting into and through all four years of college becomes hard. But not a lot of families can help their kids make these decisions and a lot of them find it frustrating.

By setting up a mass texting program which connects high school seniors and current college students with peer counselors and college coaches across the nation helps strengthen the admission process.

The college coaches or counselors can send out reminders about the deadlines around important milestones in the process like the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and college applications. They can also offer guidance for students who have difficulties with current courses, housing, financial aid, and more. CallHub’s one-on-one texting platform scales and humanizes the way your institution communicates with students and can help you build better relationships with Generation Z as they navigate to and through college.

Use Surveys For Alumni Fundraising And Engagement

Getting your alumni to commit to attending your fundraiser may be easy but following up with them to ensure they do so is definitely not a walk in the park. You need to keep a track of who has agreed to or denied your request and look through spreadsheets of data just to follow up with them. Frustrating right? Well, you can easily solve this problem by creating polls and surveys.

Surveys are a fine way to initiate a two-way conversation, record responses, identify their interests, and make follow-ups based on them. You can solicit donations or get alumni to attend your event by reaching out to them based on their interest or past involvement.

For example, if you know that a specific group of alumni were former university athletes, you can let them know when fundraisers are scheduled for your athletic teams. For those who have not yet given you an answer, you can send out a reminder text giving out event details to pique their interest, increasing their likelihood of attending.

In this way, survey forms make it easier for you to make notes and follow-up on commitments. The information collected through surveys can be used to reach out to alumni and to keep them engaged.

Keep Your Campus Community Safe

During an emergency or a crisis, reaching out to your students and staff members over email or phone call is not viable since emails may not be read and you can’t call every student in a short time. Rather you should send out simple Yes/No questions to your campus community to make sure they’re safe or not. And then follow-up with their ones who’ve indicated that they’re in danger.

For example, you can send an alert to your staff and students asking them if they’re on campus. For those who reply “No”, their response will be recorded and they will receive an automated response asking them not to go near campus. If they reply with a “Yes”, they will receive a response asking them where they are on campus and then give them the specific evacuation route.

The replies to the initial question are set before sending it. This makes it easy for your administrative staff to make sure the evacuation personnel assists your campus community.

Increase parent responses

One good way to increase parent responses is to personalize your text for each parent. Use their names, including the students’ name, and tailor the message to foster engagement. Besides this, you must include an actionable and immediate action for them to take. You can suggest parents talk to their child about the certain issue or provide a tip to try that day.

By using tools like peer-to-peer texting you can send out hundreds of texts within a few seconds and increase parent responses by engaging in one-on-one conversations with them. It allows schools to have real conversations with parents (as opposed to generic text blasts) and records data based on their responses so you can send relevant messages. Personalization of texts is easy with tags, for example, {first_name}, which will fill up the parent’s first name in the message when sent. In addition, you can send messages using a local area code to reduce the number of parents who unsubscribe.

Reduce the effort required by parents to sign up

Requiring parents to go out of their way to fill out a separate form or downloading an app may put parents off. To broaden your reach, use an SMS sign-up drive.

You can either get parents to opt-in to receive text updates during the admission process or promote the keyword on your school website and social media channels urging both parents and students to sign up.

This doesn’t have to be a long process, all you need to have a keyword and a long code or shortcode that acts as a caller ID. For example, your website can say:

Text “DUKEUNI” to 56112 to receive campus updates and reminders.

Once a parent or student texts your auto-reply should confirm their subscription to your communications list. Here’s an example:
Thank you for joining the Duke University texting list! Expect to receive campus alerts, event reminders, emergency notifications and more.

Schedule Reminders For Required Books And Materials

Most students don’t look at the syllabus prior to their first day and show up unprepared to class. To make the most of the first day, professors can send an SMS broadcast to their students with a list of materials and assignments they should bring.

You should also keep in mind that professors are busy people and they have umpteen number of tasks on their mind. They might even forget to send a text. CallHub’s scheduling feature lets professors schedule text messages to be sent at a later date and set up recurring text campaigns if needed.

Keep Students Updated And Ensure They Meet Deadlines

With college life being busier than ever, students aren’t the best when it comes to meeting deadlines. But that’s not something to worry about, you can put a stop to tardiness with a simple text message reminder. Text messages can be used to:

  • Send freshmen a welcome message and back to school tips on their first day of school
  • Inform the student body about upcoming events and requirements for attendance
  • Make sure that students have met class enrollment deadlines
  • Alert students of class time changes and cancellations
  • Collect feedback from students to identify areas that need adjusting
  • Remind students to return borrowed books so that the others can make use of it
  • Promote extracurricular activities to connect students with the school, relieve stress, build real-world skills, and make lasting friendships

Many schools and universities in the United States are offering their students innovative ways to connect through text messaging. Now it’s your turn to do the same. These are just a few examples of how text messaging services for schools can help in building better relationships, streamline admissions, communicate with parents, and improve the overall student experience.

For further information on how to get started with text messaging check out CallHub’s text messaging software or reach out to us at [email protected]