You might recognize Austin Birchell from NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast. Or perhaps from the recent blog post about how Pounce, the chatbot from AdmitHub, helped Austin make sure he had all his ducks in a row to attend Georgia State University. Or even how he met Bill Gates to discuss student success initiatives.
We spoke to Austin to see what he’s been up to since enrolling at Georgia State and first encountering Pounce.
AdmitHub: You had a unique experience with Pounce, the chatbot. Let’s revisit the summer before your first semester at Georgia State. Can you walk us through how you and other prospective students used Pounce and the impact that it had?
Austin: Of course! I had applied for Georgia’s Zell Miller Scholarship and being a first-generation college student, I wasn’t super familiar with the enrollment process for college. For weeks, I had been logging into my financial aid account, checking to see when I would receive the funds for the scholarship I won because it was going to cover 98 percent of tuition. August came and I was nervous because nothing had come through, so I reached out through Pounce, the chatbot. Pounce directed me to the financial aid building on campus for help. Later that week, I visited Georgia State, went to the building as directed, and learned that a simple typo in my social security number was the issue and it was fixed within minutes. Here, the chatbot had helped me find the correct building and the issue was fixed. It was amazing.
AdmitHub: That’s incredible, and we’re so glad that typo was fixed so your scholarship could come through. So, since then, have you still been interacting with Pounce?
Austin: Whenever I need it, really. I moved off-campus and I would text Pounce asking about parking information and things like that. Sometimes university websites can be hard to navigate on a mobile device, so when I was looking for parking information, it was great to have an answer from Pounce within minutes — it saved me a lot of time. This year, I actually got a job on campus working with Pounce to help provide triage support!
AdmitHub: That’s great! Tell us more about that. What’s it like working on the other side of the chatbot experience?
Austin: I like it! I get to have a direct impact on students—ones like me that might be confused or nervous about something—and I help make sure each student reaching out receives the right resources or knows what they need to do next.
AdmitHub: You’ve worked with Pounce for a while now. What would you say to other universities that don’t have a chatbot like Pounce?
Austin: Googling and looking up answers on a school’s website isn’t ideal for students these days. With something like a college chatbot, it provides quick answers to questions and saves so much time just with a simple text message. As for schools without it, administrators are missing out on intimate conversations with students—both potential and current. Pounce ensures that students succeed here at Georgia State and have what they need. It’s so much more than just another resource.
Austin is on track to graduate with a degree in Political Science from Georgia State. While hard work has got him to this point, Pounce has been with him each step to support him.