As the spring semester kicks off, dwindling retention numbers remain a top concern for colleges and universities nationwide.

According to a National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, only six in 10 students will study at the same college next year. While a third of students transfer to different institutions, others drop out and fail to pursue higher education altogether.

Institutions spend millions to attract prospective students through promotional mail, digital marketing, and phone calls, but traditional outreach fails to resonate with today’s Generation Z applicants who are bombarded with marketing messages.

So how can colleges and universities work smarter not only to win students over but also help them persist? Artificial intelligence holds some of these answers.

Narrow AI, also known as “deep learning,” focuses on a specific goal and uses a huge database to develop answers.

“Deep learning algorithms can turn data into decisions. These decisions involve pattern recognition and prediction in a narrow domain. Narrow AI is what self-driving cars and speech recognition depend on. It is also narrow AI that is changing how highly repeatable processes such as the decision to offer credit or extend a loan are being made.” – Inside Higher Ed

Progressive colleges and universities utilizing narrow AI to enhance student support have already seen positive results. AdmitHub’s conversational chatbots are a great example how narrow AI is already making a huge impact. With the ability to engage students 24/7 via SMS or Messenger, these AI Advisors serve as a communications filter that immediately addresses a student’s questions, concerns and, equally important, provides colleges with deeper insight on student progress and priorities.

“The next generation of campus AI systems will be able to tailor recommendations for driving up the probability of a student persisting at the institution to different people who can take action. There will be one set of recommendations for the RA, another for each professor. The adviser will get a set of recommendations, and so will the dean. These recommendations will be tailored to both the student and the recommender.” – Inside Higher Ed

AI Advisors can further enhance the student experience by delivering targeted nudges in the form of timely reminders, campus updates, and guided tutorials. For example, a student might be nudged to attend a football game, check out the new tutoring center, or sign up for a class that aligns with their interests.

With more students pursuing Higher Education each year, there is a growing need for colleges to do more with less – leverage more data and impact more students with existing staff and budgets. This is perhaps the greatest strength of artificial intelligence and why it has potential to transform how colleges think of and drive the success of students.

To learn more about the AI landscape in higher ed and why it matters, download our free AI Glossary for University Leaders.