AdmitHub, an edtech startup which builds conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to guide students on the path to and through college, together with Georgia State University, has released the results of a study that examined the efficacy of ‘smart text messaging’ in reducing their summer melt rate. Summer melt refers to students who accept offers of admission but who subsequently do not show up for fall enrollment.
Georgia State experienced its best enrollment results in school history thanks in large part to AdmitHub’s text-based intervention. In particular, the experimental group using AdmitHub experienced a 21.4 percent lower summer melt rate and a 3.9 percent higher enrollment rate when compared to the control group.
In April, Georgia State University launched the first university virtual assistant in the U.S. using AdmitHub’s conversational AI technology. Named after the school’s mascot, “Pounce” was introduced to half of all admitted students with a U.S. mobile phone number as part of a Randomized Control Trial (RCT). The treatment group received timely reminders, relevant information, surveys, and answers to their questions from Pounce. The remaining admitted or confirmed students made up the control group, and received GSU’s standard email and snail mail communication.
“Over the course of four months, Pounce exchanged nearly 200,000 messages with 3,100 students in response to questions ranging from ‘When is my tuition due?’ to ‘Can I bring my salamander to Piedmont dorm?’ Every interaction was tailored to the specific student’s enrollment task,” says Scott Burke, Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Admissions at Georgia State University. “We would have had to hire 10 full-time staff members to handle that volume of messaging without Pounce. As a result of the success of last season’s trial, we are not only continuing our use of Pounce this year, but also expanding its role to include several new initiatives focused on enrollment and student success.”
“We observed positive results in nearly every area of focus, notably a 3.9 percent increase in enrollment as compared with the control group,” said Lindsay C. Page, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh who oversaw the trial together with Hunter Gehlbach, a professor at UC Santa Barbara. “This is a significant contribution to the overall reduction in summer melt experienced by Georgia State last year.” In recent years prior to the study, Georgia State had seen its summer melt rate increase to more than 18%.
Additional Metrics and Findings
- 3,114 students in the treatment group with a valid phone number capable of sending/receiving texts accepted help from Pounce, representing a 90 percent opt-in rate.
- By the end of the trial period, 63 percent of all students in the treatment group had engaged with Pounce on at least three separate days throughout the enrollment process, and had exchanged an average of 60 messages.
- Of the more-than 50,000 student messages received, only 0.9 percent required the attention of Georgia State staff. The rest were handled by Pounce or AdmitHub staff overseeing the virtual assistant’s learning process.
- First-generation college students (those that are the first in their family to attend college) and students receiving Federal Pell Grants sent on average 9.4 percent and 31.7 percent more messages to Pounce than the average student user, respectively.
- 80 percent of students in the treatment group rated Pounce as a 4 or 5 out of 5 stars, and 94 percent recommended that Georgia State introduce Pounce to next year’s incoming class.
“The college application process is already stressful, so it makes sense that innovative institutions like Georgia State are looking for ways to both improve and streamline the approach to interacting with incoming students. The idea is to ensure students have a positive experience with the college from first inquiry to enrollment,” says Andrew Magliozzi, CEO of AdmitHub. “Our technology has proven to be an affordable and extremely effective way to provide students with the near real-time feedback they expect today, while yielding positive results for the university.”
- Full research results are available in this blog post
- SXSWedu presentation
- Road to Higher Ed talk, featuring AdmitHub’s Kirk Daulerio
- Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT): “Well-designed and implemented RCTs are considered the “gold standard” for evaluating an intervention’s effectiveness, in fields such as medicine, welfare and employment policy, and psychology.” Additional information on RCTs is available online.
Founded in 2014, AdmitHub is an edtech company committed to fostering college success with conversational artificial intelligence. AdmitHub’s virtual assistants provide on-demand support via chat by gathering data, sending reminders, answering questions, surveying students, and connecting students to appropriate advisors. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), AdmitHub can calibrate a virtual assistant for any campus community. Currently, AdmitHub has various university partnerships focusing on recruiting prospects, yielding admits, and retaining enrolled students. AdmitHub’s co-founders, Andrew Magliozzi and Kirk Daulerio, have a combined thirty-three years’ experience in higher education and software development. Additional information is available at AdmitHub.com.
Material from a press release was used in this report.