Incoming Text: “Hey, it’s me, college”

“Kids today don’t talk any more – they just text.” How many times have you heard or read some version of that sentiment recently? Like it or not, teenagers do communicate frequently through text messaging, and as communicators, we have to pay attention.

That was on the mind of Houston ISD and University of
Pittsburgh when they partnered on a “text messaging research project” aimed at improving the FAFSA process for high school seniors.

The takeaway? Simple. If you want students to pay attention to your messaging, connect with them where they’re already spending much of their time – in their messaging apps.

Additionally, this method allows for automating the reminder message, easing the burden on faculty who might usually be making those calls. If this research shows texting is an effective way to get students to tackle their FAFSA process, it might also suggest that texting could be a good way to increase application numbers.

I’m thinking about a few peers who are missing graduate school application deadlines.

As with anything, there are a few considerations to keep mind.  Allowing recipients to opt in and opt out is a must. Be selective and strategic in the frequency of texts. And, per the mantra of all marketing to Gen Y and Gen Z, cut the marketing speak and get to the point. Concise reminders and resources are probably all prospective students need from schools in a text – save the details for social, print and online.

Texting won’t replace the tried-and-true recruitment methods colleges and universities have relied on for years. But, it’s another targeted opportunity to stay top of mind in a congested communications landscape.

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