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Can You Text Your Way Into College?

Oct 19, 2011

St. Mary's University in Texas has found a new way to connect to students interested in attending - by texting them. If their success is any indication of things to come, it's highly likely that more schools will soon incorporate texting into their own admissions processes.

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By Jessica Lyons

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St. Mary's Turns to Texting

In October of 2009, St. Mary's began giving prospective students the option of receiving text message updates. The messages might let students, or their parents, know about upcoming admissions deadlines or special events. It could also be a way for the school to check on missing application information or verify a student's upcoming campus visit.

For the fall 2010 semester, there were 35,000 students who expressed interest in attending St. Mary's. Of those, only 1,685 decided to sign up to receive text messages from the school. But, while the overall rate of students who went from being interested in the school to applying was 10.5%, 68% of those who received the texts ended up applying.

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Why Text Messaging?

According to a report released by Mongoose Research in August of 2010, each day teenagers send and receive an average of 100 text messages. The report also found that 97% of texts are actually read, making it a good form of communication to reach students. While it's easy for snail mail and even e-mail to get overlooked, these students are reading just about all of their text messages.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that by using these text messages St. Mary's is able to better target students. It can also help show which students are the most interested in the school, making it easier for St. Mary's to focus on students who are the most likely to respond positively to their efforts and actually apply to the school.

Another benefit of using text messages to interact with students is that it aids in developing a more personal relationship between the school and its future students. If St. Mary's texts a student and that student replies, he or she gets a personalized response from the school. Even before enrolling students can feel more connected, which could help encourage them to attend.

Wave of the Future?

It seems highly probable that this practice could spread to other colleges. Considering how much students use technology and text messaging in particular, it's only logical that schools will find a way to further incorporate these tools into their admissions and recruiting processes. These schools can reach students in a preferred method of communication, give a positive impression of their school and possibly even helping to further encourage students to apply. With positive outcomes like these, it seems that using text messages might be too good to ignore.

What should you do if you're on a school's waitlist and in admissions limbo?

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