In Pensacola, Florida, and the home of the Argonauts, the University of West Florida is not only helping new freshman students enroll, but transfer students as well. The innovative university is using Argie, an AI-powered chatbot from Admithub that works with transfer students to make the transition from other universities to UWF smooth and straightforward with two-way text communication. 

UWF became the first school in the state of Florida to use chatbots and artificial intelligence for recruitment efforts when it introduced Argie in Fall 2017. Implemented to attract more students and be at the forefront of the communication style preferred by today’s students, the school was determined to shake up its marketing efforts. 

Source: WEARTV

The UWF Office of Undergraduate Admissions worked hand-in-hand with AdmitHub to make sure Argie was set up to answer common questions about enrollment and follow up with students to gauge their interest in attending UWF. While the institution expected to see positive results, they were happily surprised at how quickly success occurred. And after Argie’s positive results in its first year communicating with incoming freshman, UWF decided to use the chatbot to support transfer students as well. 

An increase in response rates and enrollment

Realizing that the Office of Undergraduate Admissions needed to better connect with students to share their message, UWF determined one of their biggest goals for recruiting new students and retaining them on campus was to build a sense of belonging. This was especially important for students transferring to a new campus and an unfamiliar area.

Argie’s causal and warm tone made the chatbot feel like a friend or an advisor, not just a bot. Messages sent through Argie were more personalized than a phone call from an unknown number about “remembering to enroll.” Prospective transfer students were more inclined to respond to a nudge via text, which created a positive first impression of the school. Making transfer students feel welcome from the start was a huge win.

“Argie allows us to start building a positive rapport with our students before they step foot on campus. By meeting students where they are (on their phones) and providing immediate responses, students are welcomed and connected.”

UWF Office of Undergraduate Admissions 

As soon as transfer students apply to UWF, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Argie connect with them to provide constant support. This has led to transfer students enrolling at UWF earlier than in previous years. In fact, the undergraduate admissions office noted a 3.5% increase in completed applications from transfer students – just by using Argie to deliver announcements, reminders, and general notes instead of more traditional methods of communication. And this was only after introducing Argie to transfer students mid-cycle!

Now, instead of a missed phone call or unread email from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Argie relays important messages to students across campus. UWF has also noticed an uptick in response rates and interactions with the chatbot. Including freshman, UWF has seen enrollment confirmations increase by 3.4% since Argie was implemented (2017-2019).

In addition, looking at 2019 compared to 2018 when Argie was introduced to transfer students, UWF reported:

  • 1% increase in conversion from admitted to confirmed 
  • 1% increase in conversion from confirmed to enrolled 
  • 1.8% increase in year-over-year fall enrollment 
  • A big jump in response rates and overall engagement with the chatbot compared to email outreach for admitted students (30% compared to 1-3% on average)

While those numbers alone are impressive, UWF is seeing another boost for the 2020 spring semester, showing even more significant increases after utilizing their chatbot for a full cycle. By texting transfer students about incomplete applications every two weeks, UWF has already seen a 33.3% increase in completed applications and a 35% increase in confirmed transfer students for the 2020 spring semester, compared to the 2019 spring semester. These increases have helped shore up enrollments and provided the UWF Office of Undergraduate Admissions office a better picture of their student population—which also helps professors and administrators as class sizes are determined. 

“It’s beneficial to the students to not have to wait or search to get the information they need, and they can even request to have a transfer specialist call them, if needed.”

UWF Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Others at UWF have even picked up on Argie’s effectiveness, leading to requests for other messages to be sent from different departments.

Set up for future success

With Argie, transfer students have stepped foot on the UWF campus for the first time with a positive experience. It can be hard to transfer schools—figuring out credits, classes, the campus—but that first positive interaction and having a one-stop-shop resource at your fingertips is huge. While Argie was implemented to attract more students to UWF and reduce staff hours spent calling students, it’s the positive student experience that makes Argie so popular and so impactful. 

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