With 90% of messages read within 90 seconds, SMS (short message service) is a powerful tool that cuts through the noise more effectively than other communication channels. Schools in the higher education sector can leverage that incredible open rate to reach prospective students during the admissions and enrollment process to gain more students and provide a better student experience.
Generation Z, students born between 1995-2010, have replaced millennials on college campuses and it’s critical to understand this audience and their expectations when it comes to communication. In a recent journal article, Instant Generation points out that email is now students’ least preferred communication during admission and that those same students prefer texting. That means that it is important to include SMS text messages as a part of your communication mix.
Here are some quick tips on engaging with this younger audience through text:
- Plan out your messaging. This audience can become easily frustrated by too many messages, especially if they are bombarded. Be thoughtful about what you are sending, when and how often.
- Make your text stand out. Most students apply to multiple schools and that means that they are receiving a great deal of messages at once. Make sure that your messages stand out from the crowd and also provide value. Consider using multimedia messaging service (MMS) or Mobile Landing Pages (MLP) for a more engaging and unique experience.
- Personalize your SMS messages. Generation Z values authenticity in their relationships and their communication so make sure that you are connecting with them on a personal level, as best you can. Always personalize messages with students’ names and any other relevant details you have.
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There are so many ways that educational institutions can leverage SMS during the academic year – let’s review some of the top reasons to send messages:
Stay top of mind for prospects during the admissions process
Showcase what makes your school unique by providing information on programs, opportunities, campus tours and more. Send them education on where they can find degree requirements, as well as what they can expect from a particular major after they graduate.
Applying for school can be a daunting process and SMS is a great way to offer words of encouragement to keep them motivated to complete their application. You can also share tips and resources to help them get through it (for example, provide them with resources on how to brainstorm writing ideas for their essay questions).
RELATED: Learn how students can engage with remote learning through text messaging.
Most importantly, send them text reminders about upcoming deadlines in the admissions process. You can also notify them if they are missing a form or have an incomplete section within their application.
Copy the example:
#NAME#, applications are officially open for the start of the year at #SCHOOL#. Looking forward to reviewing your application. As a reminder, they’re due on the #DATE#. Good luck! #URL
PRO TIP: Find ways to make your outreach more personal. Use two-way messaging to send and receive SMS or MMS messages and offer a quick response on simple issues like course credit transfer questions.
Provide important updates during enrollment
After a student is accepted, use SMS to keep them excited about joining the school. You can also send text messages to provide updates about freshman orientation, on-campus living assignments, meal plans, bookstore information, and more.
Copy the example:
#NAME#, freshman orientation starts #DATE# at #TIME# – we are so excited to see you there! See what you need to bring with you here: #URL
Send financial information and tuition updates
One of the top concerns for students is how much college will cost. Let students know about scholarship opportunities that are available and the different ways that they can get started. You can also provide helpful Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information through SMS.
Students will also find it helpful to receive texts before payments are due. Send a reminder at least a week before their payment is due and automate SMS confirmation receipts after they have paid.
Copy the example:
#NAME#, The deadline for the scholarship you requested information on is closing on #DATE#. Make sure to get your application in before then to be considered. #URL
PRO TIP: Send MMS messages to include images when providing information on club and event information to make the message more dynamic and engaging.
Send important student and faculty alerts
After enrollment is completed, continue to use SMS updates for timely and important school-wide updates. This could include bulk texting for course registration deadlines, student clubs, activities, or potential school closures. SMS is also ideal for keeping the faculty in the loop on important alerts also.
Copy the example:
#NAME#, join us in #LOCATION# on #DATE# at #TIME# and learn about all of the clubs, groups and other opportunities to get involved in your new school. We hope to see you there!
PRO TIP: Integrate SMS into your existing CRM to make things easier – we integrate with some of the top industry partners, including Salesforce.
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Final thoughts, further reading
SMS for schools is a cost-effective way for colleges and universities to communicate with current and prospective students, parents and faculty. Teenagers and young adults have grown up with technology at their fingertips and that means that they expect communication to be quick and easy. Help students get the most from your school with SMS.