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What App Analytics Can Do for Community College Retention and Enrollment


July 05, 2021 | 5 min read |

Many community colleges were hit disproportionately by Covid-19. Some existing students dropped out or put their studies on hold to look after their finances and families, while many prospective students could not afford to divert time away from these same activities to pursue higher education.

Numerous variables remain uncertain for community colleges and the communities they serve in the buildup towards the upcoming semester. What remains clear is that the technologies that helped these institutions reach students during virtual learning will continue to provide value in the shift to in-person and hybrid classrooms.

Leveraging smartphones to improve student outcomes

Campus mobile apps can help community colleges deliver customized content and support at scale. These communications can make all of the difference to vulnerable community college prospects, who, facing the bureaucratic minefield between application and enrollment, may simply give up. Sending better messaging in real-time to community college students that are struggling can similarly help institutions prevent dropouts.

App data provides insight into student challenges

Developing materials to support students and prospects is a cross-departmental effort, and college mobile app usage data provides insights into what content is necessary. Community colleges that use a mobile app can analyze usage data to see which services or resources users want and need, supporting scenarios such as:

  1. A “Financial Aid” tile gets a lot of clicks. The college adds more resources to that tile or creates an event about navigating financial aid forms.
  2. A third of prospects respond positively to a survey about on-campus childcare. Administrators use this data as part of a proposal for on-site childcare services.
  3. The college uses a campus app with an attendance feature. The institution’s wellbeing team analyzes attendance data with the help of the IT department to discover at-risk students and put them in touch with support services.

Illustration of the campusM app analytics dashboard, monthly view

In tandem with tactics such as student interviews and reviewing help desk calls, campus app usage data can drive meaningful changes in community college communication and wellbeing practices.

Enter automation, a community college administrator ally

The same app usage data which can be used to reshape student and prospect outreach can also be used to automate the resources and services a student receives through the campus app.

By tying app user data with automatic workflows, community college administrators can provide personalized resources to any number of prospects or students without adding more work for the team.

In campusM, for example, it’s possible to conduct recurring monthly surveys in which the answers automatically trigger changes to the app’s homepage interface. If a community college decides to poll students about their mental health, each answer can be set up to show students relevant resources based on how they feel through new tiles, push notifications and more.

Proactive Nudges can Motivate Students

Digital “nudges,” such as push notifications and emails reminding students to complete a task, can encourage students to make smarter decisions about complex processes.

Community colleges can use their campus app as vehicle for delivering timely nudges to the right groups of students. As an example, students who clicked on a financial aid tile or contacted a financial aid representative can automatically be sent push notifications about

  • Important filing dates
  • Tips and tricks for remembering how to file correctly
  • The hours during which advisors are available to meet can keep students on track financially.

For some students, this could be the difference between completing their degree or dropping out.

What’s next for community colleges?

The need to increase recruitment and retention has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and in some cases, the teams tackling these issues are doing the same work but with fewer team members. A campus app can help community college administrators gain visibility into the barriers their students and prospects are facing, and to solve for these issues in real-time with the help of automated processes.

campusM is a powerful campus app that helps universities improve student engagement on a daily basis. For more information about how campusM is making it simple for universities to provide outstanding mobile student experiences and services, click here.