(Re)engaging current students

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Hey guys, it’s Everett, reporting to you live from city number 20, Knoxville, Tennessee! As some of you may already know, I’m currently on a 5-month road trip with my girlfriend and our cat Noodle, experiencing the world of higher ed both through the lens of college students and industry leaders. (If you’re interested to learn more about where I’ve been and where I’m headed next, click here to follow along the journey with me!). 

I’ve attended 6 conferences thus far. A standout for me was the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) conference in Chicago, Illinois a little over a week ago. For some context, ACPA is one of the most influential associations for student affairs. Their mission is to continuously improve the overall college student experience. After speaking with the various departments across the student experience, I found that the most common challenge shared with me was increasing engagement with–for lack of a better word–an often apathetic student body. Perhaps that’s old news, but we have a few new ideas. 

Coming out of those conversations, the Goodkind customer success and I went deep on how our customers have used Goodkind to engage current students. Check out our specific tips and strategies below, by function: 

Student Life and Student Engagement

Today’s students don't open their emails, even if it’s to their school email addresses (sub 10% in most cases). Newsletters and physical posters on bulletin boards constantly go unread or are often too long for Gen Z attention spans. The difficulty of increasing engagement for students to attend events is fairly multi-layered, but I do know one thing for sure: Gen Z is tech savvy, and using traditional communication methods like emails, posters, and newsletters doesn’t resonate like it once did. 

With over hundreds of thousands of videos sent per month through our platform (and around a quarter of those videos being event-oriented), I know that video messages can be one part of the solution. 

  • Tip 1: Include current students into your video messages and send it to their phone numbers as well. Hearing from other students about their excitement for events not only removes the formality from the student life context, but also up-plays a common phenomenon for Gen Z: the fear of missing out, “fomo”. Here’s a sample of a light-hearted and fun video from Johnson University inviting students to events.
  •    Tip 2: Replace the time spent crafting newsletters, email blasts and posters for your bulletin boards with QR codes that lead students to Video reels. A really cool thing about reels is that it’s a series of videos that can showcase past events with testimonies from students about why the event is worth their participation. Reading?! Nope, all they do is scan then scroll. Lower the barrier to participation by making information easier to access.  

Student Organizations (i.e., Services, Resources, and Advising)

It is extremely common for college students to be unaware of the resources that are available to them. But the good thing is that students can always learn of these resources, especially if they are easily accessible all across campus by their phones. 

  • Tip 1: Students constantly log into their school accounts for course related information such as midterm and final dates, class registration details, or even to plainly submit an assignment. Since school websites already collect a good volume of web traffic, using a Chatbot web embed is a great way to keep students informed. Strategically embed department resources available on webpages where students inquire about specific resources available on campus. 
  • Tip 2: Send a 2-way SMS message anytime a student inquires about the services available at your department. Gen Z gets sidetracked fast, and that’s why a quick text message within minutes of an inquiry submission, increases the likelihood of that student making an appointment, and getting the support they need. This also opens up a follow-up opportunity in the same thread with appointment reminders. 

Residence Life

A key issue that occurs in residence life is that there isn’t enough oversight on what messages are being sent in group messages. Students tend to overshare private information in large text threads and sometimes go as far as providing their RA’s contact information to their parents, and RAs shouldn't have to deal with that in their job – they are students too. Luckily, Goodkind can help moderate content with "1.5-way messaging instead of unmoderated 2-way messaging" (kudos to Hunter Stempin for this amazing quote). With Goodkind Inbox, you control who can initiate, review, and respond to all of your messages with students.  

  • Tip 1: Goodkind SMS messages are only accessible if you have been invited to your workspace by an admin. The added security in moderation here is that only your internal team can review all text threads, intervene when necessary, and even flag inappropriate or harmful comments.   
  • Tip 2: Another form of content moderation and safety for student RA’s is having them send out weekly videos to share residence updates. This not only protects an RA’s personal information, but also keeps students up to date about their living situation.  

Orientation Teams

The goal of orientation is to ensure that students feel welcomed, supported, and enjoy their transition to college. This is 100% achievable with Goodkind video messaging, and instead of yet another lengthy tip, I’ll let these videos show you that you can get students ‘hyped’ up about your school and excited about being in college, all while learning about the resources and support available.

Catch me at TACAC!

I wanted to take this time to give a huge shout out to all the folks that stopped by to chat at ACPA– your experience and dialogue inspired this piece, and I hope that my little spiel inspires you too.   

And if you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m off to TACAC in Lubbock, Texas from April 7 to 9, where I will be giving my first Goodkind presentation. If you’ll be around, I’d love to speak with you! 

- Everett