HAMLET — People prefer text messages over phone calls or emails. This is what Richmond Community College has discovered in its effort to communicate more effectively with students and applicants.
“A lot of students do not answer their phones when you call. I think it is because they may not recognize the number, or they think it is a ‘robo-call.’ A lot of students also do not have voicemail set up, so you can’t leave a message,” said Crystal Shaw, a counselor at RichmondCC. “We are finding that texting is the best way to get a message to these students. Plus, texting is less time consuming for most people.”
The College launched the new texting platform over the summer, giving staff in the Financial Aid Office, the Career & Transfer Advising Center and the marketing division the ability to have direct communication via text messages.
“We were coming to the realization that vital information was not getting distributed to our students, and we were losing applicants through the admissions process because they weren’t responding to phone calls or emails,” said Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RichmondCC. “So we evolved, as our students have evolved in their preferred way to be contacted. I’m proud of our staff for embracing this new system in order to better serve our students and our community.”
Students are receiving messages from the College that are specific to their needs, which makes a student’s response to a text message more likely.
“What I have been texting to students are updates on their application progress and letting them know what the next steps are. Often, I am letting them know we are missing things like transcripts and residency, they need to take a placement test or we have everything we need to get them admitted and registered,” said Skylar Ramsay, Career and Transfer evening student advisor.
The text messages have proven to generate more responses from students, who are texting back when they have questions of their own.
“I have noticed I am often getting more and faster replies compared to emailing people. I think people are more likely to notice a text as they are probably getting hundreds of emails a day, and it’s easy for an email to get buried,” Ramsay added.
The College often has critical information about admissions, scholarships and financial aid that students need to take action on. Hailey Stafford, who works in the Office of the Vice President of Student Services, is the key communicator with students who qualify for the RichmondCC Guarantee. These students can lose their “Guarantee” status, which is free college tuition, if they do not submit important paperwork.
“I’ve been able to chat back and forth with them on items they may be missing or just answer general questions for them,” Stafford said. “Texting has become their sole communication with me.”
To schedule a campus tour of RichmondCC, you can now text the word VISIT to (910) 518-9685. Fall semester begins Aug. 17. Class schedules can be found online at www.richmondcc.edu/academics.