EdTech: Chatbots for University Admission & Current Students

AI-powered chatbots assist universities by offering more effective and efficient support for applicants and new students. The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in recent years has proven to be advantageous to a variety of sectors. AI is a branch of computer science where the program is created in such a way that it is able to absorb the external data, learn from it, and use the learning to achieve a specific task and goal.

Nowadays, a chatbot can be easily implemented to almost every single field we know, and the university is a good example where we can implement a chatbot to help applicants through the admission process and onboarding as well.

But, why do universities need chatbot for admissions and the onboarding process? Here are several reasons why the university needs to implement a chatbot as a service for students:

  1.    The rise of social media and messaging apps. Social media and messaging app technology have transformed the way we do our communication for over the past 15 years. In order for the university to help the new students, the university needs to adapt to current technology where younger people tend to use social media and messaging apps to interact with each other.
  2.    Lack of updated information. Finding information about university admission can be tiring and time-consuming for the applicants. Sometimes, the information is not even informed in the university website and this makes the admission process harder (and worse, it deters the applicants to submit the application for admission).
  3.    Real-time change in the university website is not effective and efficient. While the university website is the main source of the admission information, but changing the information based on the students (and applicants) needs is unrealistic. Using official social media is a more reasonable way to update the information, or better yet, use the chatbot.

In 2015, Georgia State University faced a hard time with the summer melt percentage, which refers to admitted students who accept offers of admission but do not show up to enroll in Fall. The summer melt had increased from 12% to 19% in a few short years. They know that a text message delivers a higher engagement for the current generation of students, but in the beginning, they unaware of how to manage personalized conversations with students. In the end, they made an official chatbot that acts as a virtual assistant, mainly for the admission process. It is designed to help students by sending reminders and relevant information regarding enrollment, collecting survey data and answering students’ questions. But how big is the impact?

Following the chatbot development, two Professors from Georgia State University held a randomized controlled trial to evaluate and measure the effectiveness of the chatbot. Half of the new students were given access to the chatbot, and the other half were selected for the control group. On the first day the chatbot was launched, there were 3,114 admitted students that stated to text the chatbot, it represents the 90% opt-in rate among the admitted students, with the valid US cell phone numbers. With those high traffic numbers, the chatbot showed a very good response time, meaning that the chatbot able to response thousands of conversation simultaneously.

The good experiences with the chatbot lead the 80% of students gave 4 out of 5 stars to the chatbot, and they recommend that Georgia State University introduce the chatbot to the next year’s admitted class. “I like how convenient it was. I didn’t have to look through my emails, I just went to my text,” said one of the students.

on the study, Georgia State University learns that the students who engaged with the chatbot did not feel judged for even asking that seem like a silly question. They also appreciated the instantaneous responses from the chatbot, even when they send the questions in the middle of the night.

The result of the chatbot implementation can be seen immediately. By using the chatbot, Georgia State University received the following results: an increase of 3.3% in orientation attendance; reduction of 16.85% of FAFSA verifications; increase in 14.9% loan counseling; an increase of 12.2% loan acceptance; +9.3% on-time immunization submissions and +6.25% of online transcript submissions.

The reduction of  FAFSA verifications was an impactful result because it meant that more students had flawless FAFSA’s and did not need further verification from the Georgia State University financial aid office.

In short, the implementation of the chatbot in Georgia State University successfully secured a higher number of student enrollment, 3.9% higher from the previous year, and reducing the summer melt number up to 21.4%. This is a significant contribution to the overall record year for enrollment at the university.

If more universities follow Georgia State, they can expect the following benefits for both prospective and current students.

    1.     Quick service By using chatbot, the trouble of waiting for the real human that will provide online service can be reduced significantly. In many cases, applicants should wait for a moment after they start sending the first question through a live chat before someone actually get to them. Chatbot will give a real-time response to the applicants, no matter how busy the office is.
    2.     Increasing applicants’ and new students’ satisfaction with personalized messaging. Bots can personalize every single message sent. Every applicant has different needs and characteristics. A well-developed chatbot can respond to each message thread with personalized content. This personalized content will increase applicants’ satisfaction, and secure a higher number of student registration.
    3.     Reducing labor costs. When the university decides to establish a live support department, there are a lot of things to be prepared. One of the most important things in the live support department is the human resources, where the university hires people to give online support to those applicants and new students, which requires a larger budget to supply the human hours. Chatbots significantly reduce the costs to hire those people once it deployed as chatbot can handle all the incoming questions and messages at one time. Scale your support team by using one chatbot to resolve an unlimited number of requests.
    4.     Chatbot is multipurposeWhat defines a chatbot is the knowledge and ability “installed” behind it. At first, the university might only target to help the applicants on the admission process and the new students for the onboarding process, but as the time goes by, the university could develop new abilities without the need to have another chatbot. This means the same chatbot that guides the applicants and new students can also be used to inform quizzes, scholarships, e-learning services, and many more.
    5.     Works all the time. Unlike online live support, bots aren’t bound by things like business hours. A  chatbot works 24/7. So if perspective or new students need to chat at 3 AM or on the weekend, the chatbot will happily answer all of their questions and messages. The chatbot will also work even when the whole campus is on the Christmas holiday.
    6.     Chatbot is able to handle high traffic. The most common problem when using the live chat support (with a real human agent) is the applicants or new students have to wait until they get someone to help them. This is mostly caused by the limited number of human agents compared to the number of incoming messages. This case is getting worse at peak times, where the number of incoming chats is very high. It is important for the university to make sure that they deploy the chatbot in a capable infrastructure.
    7.      Chatbot can be deployed everywhere (multichannel) Presently, social media applications and messaging applications are easily found almost anywhere and are popular amongst students. A chatbot works by sending and receiving messages, it means that we can deploy the chatbot almost on every popular chat applications e.g. Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Line, Skype, Kik, and even on Twitter. If the chat application is not the main target, the university can deploy the chatbot on the official website, so the applicants and new students should open the website to be able to communicate with the chatbot.

    Chatbots are a big help to applicants going through the admission process and general onboarding to their new campus. Give students all the information needed to succeed with the help of the chatbot. University won’t need to increase their budget for human support during admission season. (compared to the whole academic year).

    Luckily for you, building a chatbot is not a hard thing to do. You can get all of the benefits you have read above by using our chatbot platform. We built our chatbot platform in such way that you can even easily build the chatbot by yourself; or if you feel that you do not have enough time to build it, we can help you to build yours!

    Registration

    The first step to using our chatbot platform is to register your account to our system through the registration page. This registration process is a simple step where you only need to fill the registration form and everything will be set.

    If you have registered your account to our site previously, then you can log in to access the dashboard through< the login page.

    Build, test, and deploy

     

     

    After you successfully logged in, you will be redirected to the dashboard page where you can actually start to build your first chatbot. You can follow these 6 simple steps to get your chatbot ready:

    Clustaar Dashboard

    • Create a story. In the Clustaar app, a Story is a scenario. You will need it as soon as you want to go further than a simple question and answer chatbot. You will then be able to create scenarios based on your users’ answers. The Story is composed of Steps and links between those Steps.
    • Add an action. Action is what the chatbot will do when a step is triggered. It could be replying with some texts, sending a GIF, or other actions.  You can add an action as easy as drag and drop.
    • Create an intent. An Intent represents a type of question that can be asked by the user. It can either link to direct answer, trigger a “Story”, or link “Steps” between them. The Intent is an essential concept of the Clustaar Platform because it is where our NLP (Natural Language Processing) algorithm lies. It is by using Intents that you will be capable of creating chatbots that react to natural language and able to engage in conversations with the users.
    • Trigger your story. To be able to enter a Story, your chatbot needs a trigger, which is intent. You can define which intent that will trigger a story, or you can define multiple intents that will trigger the story. A story can also be triggered by a step from another story, for example:

    Story 1 – The Admission

    The chatbot will guide someone who seeks information about the admission, which should be prepared when to submit the application and any other information.

    Story 2  – After Admission

    From the first story, the applicants successfully submit the application and should pass some tests. In this story, the chatbot will guide the applicants during this time: informing the test schedule, test location, and any other related information. This Story 2 can be easily triggered by the Story 1.

    Test your chatbot. The last thing you need to do before you deploy your chatbot is testing the chatbot. You can test your new chatbot using the test chat section in the right pane (the one with the “Test your bot here!” text). This pane is specifically built to help you to test your chatbot, so when you deploy your chatbot, you can make sure that everything goes right.

    Deploy your chatbot. Congratulations on your first chatbot! Your new chatbot has been built, and it’s time to deploy your chatbot. You can deploy your chatbot by clicking the “Channel” menu on the left pane, and choose which channel suits your chatbot. Currently, we support 5 channels (of course we will support more channels in the future): Clustaar web chat, Google Assistant, Intercom, Twilio, and Facebook Messenger.

    Promote your chatbot

    Your chatbot has been deployed, and it’s time to promote it.  Let’s assume that the chatbot is deployed to the university website and on the official Facebook page. To promote the chatbot, the university can publish a post, both in the website and the Facebook page, informing that the university has a new chatbot that can help the applicants and the new students go through the admission and onboarding process. If the university has more budget to spend, the paid advertising is also a good option (Facebook Ads or Google Ads for the example). This promotion will inform and attract the potential applicants that the university they want to apply as a service that will make the admission process and onboarding even easier.

    Conclusion

    Implementing chatbot in the university to help applicants in the admission process, and the new students in the onboarding process is an added value that not every university has. By deploying a good chatbot to help in the admission process, the university will have a lot of benefits, and one of them is securing a higher number in student enrollment. Interested in implementing a chatbot solution like Georgia State? Book a demo with the Clustaar team to discuss your chatbot project today.

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