How Higher Ed Can Use Texting to Streamline Residential Life Communications

Higher Ed Residential Life Featured Image
July 8, 2021
Anna Davies
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It’s move-in day, and your residential students aren’t looking at signage. They (and their parents) are glued to their phones, dependent on their devices to show them where their dorm is, how to connect to their RA, and where they can find food. By setting up a robust text messaging system, you can provide peace of mind to students and parents and create a seamless system for key alerts throughout the year.

Text messaging can augment any other notification system, such as email alerts or signage, because text messaging is so immediate and meets students where they’re at — their phones. Studies have found that more than half of students will ignore an email from your university.

Adding texting ensures your message gets seen. By setting up a text messaging system and using it often at the beginning of the year, you’re training students to be on alert for messages from your residential life office, so they won’t ignore it when there is a timely message, such as one about water outages, fire alarm testing, or other can’t-miss info. Here, how to set up a robust text message alert system for residential life that can be used to announce social activities, must-know announcements, and more.

#1

Remind Students to Fill Out Essential Paperwork

Sample Text Message

Paperwork can be annoying to track down. If there are move-in forms that need completion, then sending them via text and linking to them online is one way to make sure they’re done seamlessly.

Texting can also make the entire move-in process contact-free, which is essential when residential life offices are trying to coordinate dorm processes in a way that minimizes physical contact and amplifies physical distancing.

#2

Introduce Students to Social Activities

Sample Text Message

Part of dorm living is engaging in social activities. But a flyer is all too easily ignored, and an email for an event next week may be overlooked. Regular texts can encourage RSVP and invite attendees to drop by. Text messaging can also be a way to break the ice and allow new or anxious students to engage with the residential life office in a friendly, low-commitment way.

#3

Share Emergency Facilities Info

Sample Text Message

Whether something has gone wrong or routine maintenance is needed, a text message can ensure that every resident is on the same page. Giving a heads up to fire drills, water outages, or emergency info can provide peace of mind, ensure quick communication, and minimize frustration.

#4

Initiate One-to-One Communication

Sample Text Message

Texting can be a lot less intimidating than picking up the phone or stopping by an office. Offering 1:1 text support where a student can connect with the res life office is a low-touch way to offer support to students, answer questions, and catch potentially problematic situations, like roommate or RA troubles, early.

Regularly reminding students that 1:1 text support is open and available throughout the year can be a way to keep a pulse point on what’s going on in the dorms, create connection with students, and encourage students to communicate and reach out if they need to. Text receipts can also clue your office into who is and who isn’t reading texts, which can allow you to continue to tweak messaging for maximum engagement.

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