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How Dean College increased retention by 11% by identifying non-cognitive risk factors affecting students

The Challenge at Dean


Dean College prides itself on The Dean Difference, the way in which the community commits to and tirelessly supports its students. Within Dean’s support systems however, there was a lack of consistency in the way student risks were captured and reported. Most of the information was based on faculty and staff perceptions that were collected in one-on-one meetings, and there was no opportunity for students to report the challenges they faced.  

Further, Dean’s primary form of communicating services was through email, oftentimes an ineffective way to connect with students at an individual level. The college didn’t have a way to effectively capture the real barriers to persistence beyond the standard information within the student information system, such as grades and attendance data.

Identifying a Solution


Dean College recognized the need for a solution that would allow them to address student needs, especially for at-risk students, at the individual level. They also acknowledged the ability for students to interact and engage, rather than simply receive and read, was essential for student adoption and success.


With its first of its kind Adaptive AI Framework delivered via SMS text messaging, EdSights was identified as the best partner to support Dean College and its students. Dean introduced their chatbot, Boomer, as a way for students to receive texts both sharing information and asking about their general well-being. Whether academics, wellness, financial issues, or social concerns, Boomer is able to connect with students at an individual level and provide a level of support that’s personalized to a student’s needs. With a 93% opt-in rate, Boomer is one of the top ways students receive much-needed information and support.


Dean College, a private college in Franklin, MA, enrolls 1200 full-time students and an additional 400 part-time students. In an effort to better understand their students and the challenges they face, Dean was an early adopter of new technologies focused on gathering information to improve student success both across campus and at an individual student level.

Boomer Leads to Key Initiatives


Dean College implemented a work team to analyze the student information and develop action plans. Based on interactions between students and Boomer, collaboration with groups and offices across campus has increased and the college has implemented key initiatives that drive student success.


  • The partnership with Student Financial Planning has been instrumental in getting students the aid they need. After reviewing perspectives on student finances, the office could further analyze the needs of an individual student and, at times, redistribute aid as needed.   


  • Residence Life was able to review the data, identify roommate issues communicated with Boomer, and proactively develop a plan to address the expressed concerns.  Without Boomer, the team may not have known about the issues until much later.

Boomer Finds Success

Boomer supports almost 1100 students, with 69% of all students actively engaging through text message. This high level of engagement has reduced the time and resources needed from staff, with the chatbot able to answer hundreds of questions that would previously have needed an individual staff response. Boomer allows Dean to send custom campaigns to targeted groups of students, ultimately streamlining the messaging and increasing efficiency. Boomer is another member of the team doing important work - connecting with and helping students - while also providing important student-level data staff need to follow-up appropriately.


And the results speak for themselves. Since the introduction of Boomer to Dean College students, the college has seen a retention rate increase of 11%. Boomer has become an important part of The Dean Difference, serving as yet another resource beyond the already supportive faculty, staff and student body. 

Student Opt-In
Active Engagement
Retention Increase

93% of students
opted in to receiving text messages and
check-ins from Boomer

69% of students
actively engaged with Boomer and texted him on a consistent basis

Dean College saw an increase in retention of 11% after introducing their students to Boomer

Adaptive AI powered by SMS text messaging helps Boomer become a behaviorally intelligent chatbot that engages students in meaningful interactions and creates an empathetic virtual community. This approach has led to an increase in student retention of 11%!


“Dean is a small community that cares about each other and about its students. We are consistently working to see how we can do better for our students and their experience. After working with the EdSights team these past several years, it is easy to say that they have become part of our close-knit community that cares about consistently improving our ability to impact the student experience.”

Kristin Fitzgerald
Director of Success and Career Advising, Dean College

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