Here’s how to boost enrollment with chatbots

Georgia State University’s virtual assistant helps incoming freshmen navigate the student enrollment process, leading to a significant increase in enrollment

“In these cases, students’ questions are escalated to an admissions counselor,” Magliozzi says. “After responding, the counselor has the opportunity to train the chatbot if the Q&A would be helpful to a larger student audience.”

In 2017, the university’s first summer of implementation, Pounce delivered more than 200,000 answers to questions asked by incoming students. “Every interaction was tailored to the specific student’s enrollment task,” says Scott Burke, associate vice president and director of undergraduate admissions. “We would have had to hire 10 full-time staff members to handle that volume of messaging without Pounce.”

As a result of this more personalized approach, GSU reduced its summer melt by 22 percent that year. This translated into an additional 324 students sitting in their seats for the first day of classes, rather than sitting out the college experience.

Encouraged by this success, GSU has expanded its use of Pounce to engage students from the time they first express an interest in the university all the way through enrollment—and Pounce is now engaging more than 50,000 students and prospects.
For the second year in a row, Burke reports, summer melt decreased at GSU for the 2018-19 school year—and enrollment of new first-time students was up 17 percent over last year. The university plans to use the chatbot as a means of driving retention and graduation among its current students soon as well.

“As AdmitHub’s first chatbot client, I was nervous about the risk we were taking,” Burke says. “Our number-one goal was to deploy a solution that would nudge and walk students through complex processes such as filing a FAFSA in a personalized way. The results far exceeded my expectations.”

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