Onondaga Community College had a need to increase student retention, but the fix was far from easy. After exhaustive research, the college’s staff developed a bold and comprehensive plan to help more students graduate.
Who is OCC?
Onondaga Community College is a 2-year, public SUNY institution located in Syracuse, N.Y.
Identifying the friction points through journey mapping
As is the case at many schools across the country, some students at Onondaga Community College were missing deadlines, falling behind on studies and ultimately leaving school. When OCC administrators explored the students’ pain points, they discovered that a big issue was the complexity of college processes. Many students were unable to balance a busy work life and home life with school work and the hundreds of little tasks that make up a typical day on campus. The staff sought out ways to make it easier for students to concentrate on their studies.
What are Guided Pathways?
Guided Pathways is a multi-dimensional approach, geared toward community colleges, that helps students through the myriad of processes needed to enroll and eventually graduate. Staff members talked to students to find pain points and even went through the various educational processes personally to find ways to make improvements. The revelations made helped OCC remove obstacles so students and potential students can focus on their education.
A multi-faceted texting strategy
“Students respond to texting. I’m getting students, even weeks later, responding and asking questions. As long as they know they have someone right there to ask a question to, that’s what we’re looking for."
- Jenna Alexander, OCC Director, Advising Center
OCC uses multiple channels to reach students:
The combination of texting channels allows OCC staff members to stay connected with students and help them in ways that reach beyond academics. Students have felt comfortable enough with their One Team support members to reach out when they need help with transportation, decision-making guidance, or assistance with complex forms.
Because Onondaga Community College has many at-risk students who need help navigating the college process, the staff needs to constantly stay in touch. Texting has proven to be a powerful engagement tool. OCC saw early success with a 2.3% increase in conversion for the 2019 fall semester.
Students are buying in
A path to graduation (and success beyond the diploma) has many obstacles, but the conversations created by a dedicated OCC staff and the proven principles of Guided Pathways have made a difference in a short time.
29.1% reply rate
after the first month of texting at OCC.
Want to learn more?
Download the complete Case Study to learn more about OCC's communication transformation, including the details on some impressive results.