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Aquinas College increases retention by 13.5 percentage points through targeted campaigns that enhance staff outreach

To combat national decreasing retention, Aquinas College recognized the need to intervene earlier with their students to help them through the registration process and ensure a successful return to campus this fall.

Rather than relying solely on standard institutional email reminders or nudges, the team at Aquinas decidedly turned to their artificial intelligence chatbot, Nelson the St. Bernard, to get an immediate pulse on students’ enrollment plans for the following term.


Through the Persistence Check-ins that Nelson conducted each term, Aquinas was able to understand the individual roadblocks that students were facing and coordinate targeted outreach to ensure that each student persisted.

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The instant visibility that the bot gave Aquinas helped the college increase retention from 71.6% last year to an all time high of 85.1%

By meeting students where they are, Aquinas was able to immediately identify at-risk students in an intimate and efficient manner. From there, Brian Matzke (AVP of Student Success) and his team were able to individually reach out to those students to help.

Through Nelson’s direct interactions with students, Aquinas was able to identify the subset of students who needed help, read their qualitative comments explaining why they're not returning, and ensure personalized outreach.







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