Keeping Students Up-To-Date during COVID-19 with SMS for Colleges

Across the world, colleges and universities are in the process of making a lot of big decisions. Your institution is likely one of them. While you’d love for things to return to normal on campus, you know that you have to prioritize the health and safety of both your students and staff. But students are eager to know what they’ll be doing right away. SMS for colleges is a great way to keep them up-to-date on your latest decisions. 

Your students—and their parents—are more likely to read texts than emails. After all, emails have a low open rate of 20%, while texts have an open rate of 98%. Plus, sending and answering texts on a large scale can be easy for your team with a business text messaging platform. These platforms empower your administrative and academic teams to send, receive, and manage a large number of student texts. 

So how can you use SMS for colleges to keep students satisfied and up-to-date? Let’s dive in. 

Open Text Hotlines via SMS for Colleges 

Your parents and students—especially those of the incoming class of 2025—probably have a lot of questions. Answering all of these questions over the phone can consume a lot of your team’s valuable time. It may not even be possible in the current, COVID-19 environment. But managing questions via SMS for universities is quick and easy. 

Your SMS for colleges provider should offer shared inboxes. Each shared inbox has its own number. You can set up each team (e.g., admissions, academic departments, extracurriculars, colleges) with their own inbox. As messages come into the inbox, only permissioned team members can see them and reply, ensuring that no messages slip through the cracks. 

Be sure to offer separate college SMS lines for:

  • Parents. They may have questions about bills and processes during COVID-19. Business services departments may be best suited to answer them. 
  • Admitted students. They may have general questions about class and registration processes. Deans and student life team members may be best suited to answer them.
  • Prospective students. They may have questions they would typically ask during in-person admissions events. Admissions and current students may be best suited to answer them.
  • Majors/minors. Department members may have specific questions about their graduation requirements and research opportunities. Department administrators may be best suited to answer them. 

You can quickly and efficiently answer questions through SMS for colleges. Responsiveness ensures your students and their parents feel comfortable returning to classes, even in unsure times.

Use an SMS Student Notification System

You should communicate with students as soon as your team makes a big decision. They are eager to hear what decisions you have made about their future. An SMS student notification system is a great way to quickly disseminate that information. 

Your SMS for colleges provider will offer the tools you need to send personalized texts to all of your students. Teams can simply select a list of relevant students, create or select a templated message, and leave room for custom fields. Then, they can press send. The SMS for universities platform will automatically insert custom field information into each text using merge tokens, so students receive texts that look like they were sent individually. 

A template might look like this:

Hello, {{student name}}, great news from University of the Californian Coast! You can sign up for online Fall 2020 classes on your student portals. Don’t forget to register before August 30!

Reminders sent through your SMS student notification system will work well for registration reminders, potential return dates, and even admission of waitlisted students if they don’t respond to phone calls or emails. 

Host Q&A Text Events 

Your college SMS question hotlines are SMS for colleges in actiongreat for students’ and parents’ burning questions, but some may have questions that they don’t feel are important enough to ask in person or over the phone. Hosting Q&A text events is a great way to encourage students to ask their more nuanced questions.

Choose specific times for your Q&A text events, and make sure each one has a distinct theme. Publicize them through your social media pages, outreach emails, and, of course, SMS student notification system. 

You can host Q&A text events for:

  • Departments. Have professors and majors answer questions from prospective students and majors. They can advise students about future classes and research opportunities. This can encourage engagement and excitement around majors. 
  • Extracurriculars. Have football coaches and choir directors alike answer student questions. They can advise students about exercises they can do while they wait to get back on campus, and give them a good idea of the time commitments of their clubs. This can ensure participation once students are back on campus. 
  • Student life. First year students may be concerned about going to college in these circumstances. Have RAs, event organizers, and other student life officials answer their questions about life on campus. This will show them that there’s nothing to worry about. Ensure they know that questions are private, so they feel free to ask about things they’re nervous about.  

Since all messages are centralized in a shared inbox, administrators can monitor them to ensure they follow school policies. Hosting Q&A events is an effective, safe way to engage students and get them excited about coming back to campus. 

 

Ready to try SMS for colleges or SMS for universities? Test our SMS platform today.

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