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6 Ways to Improve Student Engagement in Higher Education via Text

Want to get an A+ in student engagement? Utilize these six SMS strategies for higher-education engagement.

Group of higher edu students talking in communal area
May 21, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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They say college includes four of the most formative years of a person’s life. There is a lot to take in, from meeting people with different backgrounds to participating in high-level courses and getting thoughts and ideas challenged. That’s why universities must ensure their students have support during their college years.

Student engagement in higher education is crucial, not only from a business perspective (aka retaining students) but also for helping students get a solid footing after enrollment, become part of a community, and develop a sense of identity. Help to set them up for success with these six strategies to boost engagement, including how to implement them via text.


Why Is Student Engagement on Campus Important?

Student engagement is one of the keys to completing a higher-education degree. Many university-specific studies have shown that increased student engagement leads to persistence in pursuing and finishing a degree. Why? Because the more that students engage in campus life, the more pride they’ll have in their college and the more supported they’ll feel.

Plus, by helping students along their educational journeys, higher-ed institutions will increase student retention, which means more tuition money and fewer costs in recruiting new students.

How To Increase Student Engagement in College

Ensure you have all the tools you need for a successful school experience for your students. Here are six ways to boost engagement on campus with help from SMS.


Get Students Involved Early

Promoting student engagement in higher education starts on day one — before they even arrive on campus. Once students are enrolled, create a sense of excitement and community with text messages for students in a declared major, by dorm, or by scholarship or sports team. Students will start to feel part of something before they even step foot on campus.

Sample Text Message

But engagement can’t stop once new-student orientation is over. The transition from high school to college can be challenging for many first-year students. In fact, the 2021 Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement shows that 53% of freshmen students experience mental and emotional exhaustion and 27% experience loneliness. To support students’ mental and emotional health, it’s important to motivate them to participate in student groups, co-curricular activities, intramural sports — basically, anything that will help them connect with other students and foster a sense of belonging.

At the beginning of the school year, your institution could schedule weekly text messages with links to these resources to ensure that students have access to everything they need for success in those crucial months.


Plan Campus Events

One of the best student engagement strategies for higher education is organizing campus events. Planning smaller events for various groups, like academic departments, student associations, and dorms, is a great way to create connected hubs within a larger university. An example of text alerts in college is an event notification with a link to sign up. For greater engagement, you could even consider letting students know that they’re already signed up. That way, the only action they need to take is opting out.

Campus-wide events could include dances, poetry slams, concerts, film festivals, fun runs, cultural festivals, and homecoming games. Learn how to engage alumni via SMS about homecoming, donations, and more.


Be Active on Social Media

With 84% of 18–29-year-olds using some form of social media, it only makes sense that higher-education institutions should be learning how to increase student engagement in college by using social channels. Ensure that your university is active on socials, like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube, to connect and engage with students. What are some ways to increase student engagement on social media? We thought you’d never ask.

  • Host contests and giveaways using special hashtags and requesting follows and shares
  • Incorporate user-generated content (this can be super helpful for incoming students)
  • Host live Q&As or campus/residential hall tours
  • Promote campus events
  • Share behind-the-scenes content
  • Do student takeover days

But none of these strategies will work if your students don’t follow your social media accounts! Make sure that you send texts intermittently throughout the year with links to your social channels.


Promote Student Resources

Another strategy for how to increase student engagement on campus is promoting student resources, like tutoring, student or faculty mentorship, counseling services, music rooms, and so on. Schedule texts to be sent during the first week of classes, prompting students to visit the school webpage that lists student resources available to them.

Residential communication can play a big part in this strategy because resident assistants and leaders create a sense of community within their housing family. Have resident assistants or leaders send text blasts throughout the year, highlighting a different on-campus resource each time. They may share links to appointments at the health center or activities in the rec rooms. Make sure that students know that they’re supported.


Encourage Volunteering

Sample Text Message

Help students make an impact in their community—whether on campus or off. Volunteering can give students pride in the university and help them develop their sense of identity. To boost student engagement in higher-education institutions, promote volunteer opportunities via text. These messages should be short and sweet, clearly state the need, and provide a CTA that motivates action.

But sometimes they might need a little nudge to sign up. Offer incentives for volunteer events, like free food or extra credit, to give students a benefit they can’t resist.


Request Feedback

Our final tip for how to increase student engagement on campus is to let your students know that their voices matter. If they know that they have a say in the goings-on of campus, they’ll be more motivated to be active in their college community.

The best way to do this is to send a quarterly or semester survey link via SMS. Request student feedback on things like the dining hall menus, if there are enough campus events, how student groups might be better run, residence hall operations and maintenance — you get the idea. Again, you might want to incentivize submitting feedback with gift cards to the on-campus coffee shop, university swag, or entering each student into a contest for a month of free parking.

Increase Student Engagement With EZ Texting

Now that you know the ABCs of how to encourage student engagement in higher education, it’s time to sign up with a text marketing service. EZ Texting provides proven higher-education text solutions that can help to boost enrollment, support students, help your college campus thrive, and increase retention — all with a simple, easy-to-use platform. Get started today!

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