For just about any college or university, responding to the inquiries of thousands of students is a daunting task that too often makes it difficult to identify those students who need more individualized and timely attention. 

Enter chatbots powered by artificial intelligence (AI). By taking on the tone and language of students themselves (emojis included!), chatbots make students feel comfortable asking questions, including those they otherwise might not send to human staff. AdmitHub’s chatbots are built with thousands of engaging answers to the questions most commonly asked by students, and they are available 24/7, which is crucial when today’s students expect constant communication. 

What’s more, by answering thousands of repetitive questions while also identifying problem areas, chatbots enable staff to focus time on individual students who need it most. 

Seeking a revamped communication strategy focused on student success, several institutions – including the five incredible universities highlighted below – have partnered with AdmitHub to implement time-saving chatbots powered by AI. From increased enrollment to financial savings and expanded outreach, chatbots have a lot to offer students, as well as the staff who tirelessly support them. Let’s check out the results. 

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona 

  • Type of Institution: Large 4-year Regional Public University 
  • Location: Pomona, CA
  • Undergraduate Population: 25,326 
  • Chatbot Name: Billy Chat
California State Polytechnic University Pomona Chatbot Results

In May 2019, CPP introduced its chatbot, “Billy Chat”, to thousands of incoming first-year and transfer students. Between May and August that summer, over 95% of the students contacted by Billy Chat opted in to communications. Billy Chat helped answer a wide variety of student questions using its knowledge base of 1360 understandings. The outcome? An astounding 1300 hours of staff time were saved (based on an average of 1 minute per manual response).

With Billy Chat, the Student Success team at CPP was able to spend less time working the phones and sending emails, and more time working directly with students. CPP also leveraged the data collected by AdmitHub to better understand what students needed.

“Having Billy Chat gives us more time to work with more complicated student situations that need in-person advising.”

Zoe Lance, Communications Specialist at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

East Carolina University 

  • Type of Institution: Large 4-year Regional Public University 
  • Location: Greenville, NC
  • Undergraduate Population: 23,265
  • Chatbot Name: Pee Dee 
East Carolina University chatbot results

ECU launched its chatbot, Pee Dee, in July 2018. Pee Dee’s main task was simple: reduce the volume of calls being handled by staff members who were eager to help students, yet bogged down by repetitive questions. If Pee Dee could answer most FAQs, ECU staff could devote a lot more time to crucial face-to-face conversations with students. 

And answer the chatbot did. After Pee Dee began interacting with prospective students, ECU saw immediate reductions in total call logs to university staff during the period of Jul-August 2018. Compared to the same period during the 2017 enrollment season, ECU recorded 13.4% fewer calls from students who now had 24/7 access to the chatbot. The extra time empowered ECU staff to not only provide more events on campus to help students, but also allocate more time for high school recruitment visits. 

Ocean County College 

  • Type of Institution: Community College  
  • Location: Toms River, NJ
  • Undergraduate Population: 8,377
  • Chatbot Name: Reggie 
Ocean County College chatbot results

With boosting enrollment a key priority for the OCC admissions team, centralizing communication with students — in other words, stopping the “student shuffle” from department to department to get different pieces of information — would be a huge win. So, with help from AdmitHub, ‘Reggie’ was stocked up with knowledge and introduced to incoming students in November 2017. 

Just under one year later, Reggie had answered over 14,000 questions via text, a number so large that the equivalent of 6 weeks of staff time was saved as a result of the chatbot’s communications (based on an average of 2 minutes per manual response). Demonstrating the power of text over other forms of communication, OCC students responded to Reggie’s proactive messages 26% of the time (versus a 15% response rate to emails), helping power a 1.9% increase in fall enrollment and a 7.4% increase in summer enrollment year-over-year. 

“[The chatbot] frees up our time and allows us to have more in-depth and complex conversations that really do require human interaction.”

Sheenah Hartigan, Director of Enrollment Services at Ocean County College

University of Wyoming 

  • Type of Institution: 4-year Regional Public University 
  • Location: Laramie, WY
  • Undergraduate Population: 9,791
  • Chatbot Name: Cowboy Joe 
University of Wyoming chatbot results

As the flagship university of Wyoming and a common transfer institution for community college students, the UW staff needed a way to gauge the interest levels of prospective students so they could best allocate time and resources. However, during a critical period of about 8 weeks from June to August, UW had no strategic, scheduled communication with students. Cowboy Joe, a chatbot focused on assessing student interest and keeping prospective students engaged, was launched in May 2018, sending out 125,000 text messages to students between May and August that same year. 

Cowboy Joe ‘wrangled’ answers to student responses at a ‘galloping’ pace, leading to over 102 hours of staff time saved during the critical period of May to August 2018 (based on an average of 30 seconds per manual response). In addition, summer melt plummeted by 32% and first-year student enrollment increased by 9.5% — a new record for UW (they nearly ran out of dorm rooms!). Lastly, student communications with Cowboy Joe identified common concerns that were not being addressed by the FAQ pages on their Residence Life and Dining Services website, helping staff preempt future questions. 

“The updates and reminders were a good bit of help. And the personality of the texts were hilarious and brightened my day. The trivia was fun and got me excited to be part of the culture of UW.”

Student at the University of Wyoming

Winston-Salem State University 

  • Type of Institution: Mid-size Public University, HBCU 
  • Location: Winston-Salem, NC  
  • Undergraduate Population: 4,647
  • Chatbot Name: Winston
Winston Salem State University chatbot results

WSSU wanted to ensure that all incoming students were “Ram Ready” — that all enrollment requirements were complete and students were ready on day one. Unleashing their chatbot named Winston in August 2017, WSSU staff looked to reduce the amount of time they spent answering commonly asked questions, while also energizing incoming students for the new semester. Winston delivered on both accounts. 

By August of 2018, after a full year with Winston in play, WSSU staff answered 36% fewer incoming calls, while immunization compliance increased by 37% and the on-time payment of bills skyrocketed by 74%. Total enrollment was up 2% as well! More students were arriving on campus without the stress of missing forms or incomplete tasks, and WSSU administrators were glad students could instead focus on settling into college life. 

“The results so far this year are pretty staggering. More students than ever were ready to enjoy new student orientation, make new friends, and figure out their next phase in life without the weight of unfinished business hanging over their heads.”

Joel Lee, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management at Winston-Salem State University