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3 Ways to Encourage a Sense of Belonging After Census Day

Two smiling young men celebrating.

After the hustle and bustle of students returning to many campuses comes one major milestone when measuring the health of an institution: census date.

While rises in application numbers and record-breaking enrollments are celebrated with press releases and US News rankings are announced; enrollment leaders know their job is never done when it comes to ensuring those announcements are followed up with students who not only make it to census date but persist throughout the remainder of the semester.

It’s critical to follow up summer melt initiatives and Welcome Week festivities with meaningful engagement opportunities that encourage students to develop a true sense of belonging. And, as equally important, to identify students who are not getting those feelings so they may be connected with appropriate people and resources.

Leveraging EdSights’ research-backed and adaptive AI framework, here are 3 examples of key check-ins that are great indicators of student engagement and their sense of belonging at the beginning of each semester:

1) The Sense of Belonging Check

Example belonging check

True to its name, this check-in helps to identify students who do not feel they belong at the institution by simply asking them if they feel they belong at their current institution.

For students who indicate a neutral or negative response, their institutionally-branded AI chatbot gets to work by sharing positive sentiments from past students with them as a form of encouragement. Additionally, these students are flagged for follow-up for counseling staff to ensure a person has the opportunity to reach out directly.

By executing a Belonging Check, institutions are able to be more efficient by ensuring that students who indicate they do not feel they belong are prioritized by staff for outreach.

2) The Temperature Check

The Temperature Check enables partner institutions to quickly identify students who may be impacted by the four key drivers that impact persistence (Academics, Finances, Social Engagement, and Wellness). Data from our most recent round of temperature checks shows that more than 1 in 4 students do not feel that they have someone to reach out to for help if they have an issue.

Example temperature check text message sequence

Dr. Vincent Tinto reminded us during the recent #EdSightsSummerRead, student perceptions matter. While it is likely these students have a number of resources available to them, this highlights the importance of ensuring students are consistently reminded about the people and resources available to them.

Once again, the process of identifying these students starts by simply asking how they are feeling about the start of the term. Students who reply with a neutral or negative response are asked a follow up question to dive deeper into what may be causing them stress. Based on their responses students may be connected to resources or flagged for follow-up by a staff member. Additionally, the adaptive nature of EdSights’ framework ensures that these students will be followed up with later to ensure they received the support they needed. This approach is what has led to retention increases of as high as 14%.

3) Engagement Campaigns

Last but certainly not least are Engagement Campaigns. These campaigns can help connect students who want to get more involved but do not know where to start with clubs, organizations, social events and campus resources.

As a custom campaign, this approach can target specific, pre-determined populations of students (like students whose predictive model indicates they may be at-risk prior to enrollment). Students are sent a prompt reminding them their AI chatbot is there as a resource for them to support them with recommendations for how to ask how to get involved.

Example text messaging campaign.

Ohio Northern University recently executed a campaign (pictured here) to encourage students to participate in upcoming campus events. Based on student responses, details about the event they were interested in were sent back automatically; immediately connecting the student to the event that interested them most!

Jacksonville University ran one of the most successful custom campaigns ever. JU utilized their artificial intelligence chatbot, Nellie the Dolphin, and evidence-based SMS campaigns to create a virtual community while students were physically separated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the extended winter break, Nellie asked students to text their most played 2020 song to be added to a shared Spotify playlist. Nellie received 285 songs totaling over 6 hours of listening.

Responses are available for campus staff to review to ensure that students are finding what they are looking for and building additional connections on campus.

It’s Not Too Late To Get Started

It's never too late to level up your efforts when supporting student retention and persistence. In fact, this is the most critical time for ensuring the students you worked so hard to get to campus end up staying and returning.

Request a demo below to set up a time with a member of the EdSights team.



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