SMS Texting for Higher Education Student Engagement

4 minute read

Upland Admin

As students and campuses gear up for the upcoming school year, it’s prime time to consider how SMS texting enables seamless, instant communication between higher ed institutions and students. Why is texting so effective for students? For starters, more than 99% of college students use cell phones, and texts have a 98% open rate. Plus, 94% of students want to use their cell phones in class. This sets college students up to be the perfect candidates for text message communications. For colleges and universities that want better connections, mobile messaging might be the ideal solution for engagement, participation, feedback, and insights from students.

How one school made a mark with texting

One university shared a prime example of just how simple it can be to get the word out on the latest campus news, events, and initiatives by simply using the right SMS text program. From Greek life, to health, and beyond, universities all around are making the most out of text messaging to communicate with and inform students.

We’ve seen a variety of use cases within higher education institutions. In fact, before using Upland Mobile Messaging, one university’s Health Promotion Department was promoting most of its student health and enrichment programs in person or with signs with instructions for students to opt into communication. The university was working to transition to digital engagement with student communications via new websites and a blog that would soon roll out, but wanted an immediate solution for promoting current initiatives to educate their students on mental health, violence prevention, and Greek life.

Universities who have implemented Upland Mobile Messaging into its communications strategy, have been able to overcome the following challenges:

  1. Challenge: Lack of Student Participation in Mandatory Training

One college required an education program for the Greek community that was focused around hazing, alcohol and sexual abuse. Students had to attend this training either once a month or once a semester. Attendance numbers were high, but students tended to simply “show up” rather than engage in classes by speaking up, answering questions, and fully participating in verbal discussions. The university needed a way to get more interaction and participation from student attendees.

The Solution:  The organization used SMS texting to enable their students to anonymously answer questions during the course, rather than to raise their hands or draw attention to themselves. Students were much more willing to take part in the conversation when they could remain anonymous.

The Result: Student participation and responses during the class shot up by 70%, giving the university a exponentially better understanding of their Greek community.

  1. Challenge: Checking in on Student Mental Health

Administrators knew students were stressed as the end of the semester neared but were unsure of the severity of the situation. They needed a way to reach students and help them manage stress without requiring them to come to the health center during such an intense and busy time. Administrators also wanted a solution that would allow students to answer somewhat personal questions anonymously and easily.

The solution: After seeing how successful the anonymous texting was for the Greek community training program, administrators hoped the same results would happen for its mental health initiative. Piggybacking on the Greek program’s success, they began sending text messages to all students that included a string of questions asking the students how they were feeling. Questions answered by students then prompted pre-selected answers that offered tips and instructions on how to handle particular types of issues based on students’ specific answers.

The result: Students were notably more willing to open up about how they were feeling due to anonymity, and the university was able to offer a positive support system to help students handle stress in healthy ways.

Texting proves its value in education environments and makes it easy to see why so many campuses are making the switch from other types of communication towards mobile messaging. It’s a direct and immediate communication tool that can also return useful and important data and insights on students.

To see more ways universities have prospered from Upland Mobile Messaging, check out our Bowling Green State case study.



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