Using Ana to Help Reach More Students: An Admin’s Perspective

Using Ana to Help Reach More Students: An Admin’s Perspective

Upswing as a platform brings a wide range of services to college students in a convenient and useful format, and our SMS virtual assistant, Ana, is a great representation of this. However, these tools are just as beneficial for campus administrators as they are for students. From creating message plans to addressing student concerns, our processes and procedures are intentionally designed with both students and staff in mind.

Establishing the Message Plan

Each summer, administrators receive a unique message plan for the upcoming school year. This plan will contain about 13 pre-drafted messages for each semester with custom URLs for campus offices and resources, and may touch upon the following topics:

  • Academic resources
  • Mental health resources
  • Tools for organization
  • Encouragement and motivation
  • Self-care and general check-ins
  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • Course registration

…and much more!

Administrators have the ability to rearrange the order and timing of the messages, modify the content to best match their student body’s needs, and adjust the specific resources that have been linked. In addition to these base messages, administrators have the option to add up to 3 new messages that are specific for their institution each semester. These bonus messages may include, but are not limited to, deadline reminders (such as applying for graduation), notes for specific populations (like student athletes), timely quotes (perhaps from an alum of the institution), and campus activity announcements (such as an upcoming event).

This process has been refined over the years to reduce the burden on administrators while providing as much flexibility and customization that they need. All of these messages are data-driven and tested amongst various populations to ensure that they resonate with a wide range of students.

Preparing for Support

Besides all the work that goes into the campaign creation, our Ana support team is also hard at work preparing for the messages that they will receive from students. They perform extensive research and have over 100 common questions prepared for each partner school to efficiently and effectively answer students’ questions. These questions can range from school policies to resources on campus to important deadlines and more throughout the semester. The Ana support team spends a lot of time crafting detailed responses that are not just quick answers, but often include specific links and detailed information that students need to easily go from an Ana message to the resource they need.

Escalating Students of Concern

Once the semester is underway, there is not too much that the administrator needs to do. However, managing escalations is a critical way for campus officials to monitor and respond to students of concern throughout the academic year. Whenever our Ana team receives a message from a student that necessitates an on-the-ground response, we begin the escalation process. While our team always begins by attempting to de-escalate the situation directly with the student, there are many instances in which this is not sufficient due to the nature of the message.

The types of messages from a student that may initiate this process can include risk of self-injury or suicide, risk of dropping out of school, housing or food insecurity, students in distress, and other urgent scenarios. The designated campus administrator will receive a prompt notification including who the student is and the nature of the escalation. From there, administrators will be able to go through the appropriate campus channels to ensure that someone from their institution can reach the student in question with the resources they need. This process is designed to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of the student while empowering campus officials with everything they need to address the situation effectively. We strictly follow all FERPA guidelines to ensure that confidentiality and safety are maintained every step of the way.

Data Demonstrates Impact

In addition to serving as a retention, engagement, and escalation tool for campuses, Ana also serves as a powerful source of data to give administrators a pulse of how their students are responding and what their needs are. Upswing provides customized dashboards to provide real-time data analytics for each institution that uses Ana. These dashboards are always accessible to administrators so they can view the progress of the message plan throughout the semester, as well as how students are responding to the various messages.

Within these detailed but easy-to-use dashboards, administrators can find a range of information, including:

  • Engagement rate for each individual message
  • The unsubscribed rate for each message
  • How students are responding to each message
  • What information students are requesting
  • How Ana responds to each message

…and much more!

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While these data dashboards are created for campus administrators, they also empower our Ana team to continue improving the message plans each year. You can explore some of our team’s recent findings in this blog post.

If you’re curious about how Ana and Upswing can benefit your campus, please reach out to us here!


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