Graphic design with the phrase Using Texting to Engage Non-Traditional Students

3 Ways Texting Transforms Non-Traditional Learner Engagement

The higher education space is transforming rapidly in response to new learner demands. Prospective students seek more non-traditional programs that offer the flexibility and freedom needed in their busy lives. 

And they’ll go to whomever provides this—colleges and universities are just one of many options in today’s competitive environment. 

To that end, continuing workforce, professional, and online education divisions play a larger role than ever. Most respondents to our recent State of Continuing Education survey said their unit’s role has expanded since 2019. 

This expanded role, coupled with growing enrollments, presents a challenge of scale. CE is known for delivering high-quality, personalized learning experiences. This means student engagement is critical. 

Preparing to Communicate with Ever-More Learners 

Learner engagement begins with communication. In today’s era, engaging through texting is one of the most effective ways to reach adult learners. After all, while 65% of emails get ignored, SMS open rates can be as high as 98%, with 90% of SMS messages being opened within 3 minutes. 

For modern CE divisions, finding ways to leverage SMS text messaging to communicate is becoming a priority.

Here are some ways you can bring CE and SMS solutions together: 

1. Nudge Students to Progress Toward Course Completion 

Since non-traditional education programs are non-credit, it’s common for non-traditional students to take all the coursework they need but not complete a final assessment or project that will support their credential attainment. 

From the student’s perspective, having someone nudge them about incomplete tasks can alleviate the burden and stress of remembering what needs to be done. They feel that someone cares and wants to help them succeed. 

CE leaders can help by automatically building a list of tasks for the learner to complete. With Modern Campus Signal Vine, staff can do just this and then notify the learner—through a campaign or individually—to complete those final pieces. 

2. Suggest Relevant Programming to Drive Enrollment Numbers 

Many CE students enroll in specific, and typically online courses, to meet a just-in-time learning need but don’t intend to continue toward a credential. But that’s a missed opportunity; completing a credential can have a significant impact on each learner’s earning potential. 

For CE staff, encouraging students to progress from a single course registration toward earning a certificate can be extremely time-consuming. Leveraging modern texting is a more time-efficient way for staff to reach students at their fingertips.

Texting the right learners at the right time about upcoming program offerings is a win-win scenario for both parties. Institutions can help boost their enrollment numbers, and learners can progress further to earning their next credential. With Modern Campus Signal Vine, communication has never been easier. 

3. Simplify Communication for Busy Learners 

It can be difficult for CE students to know who to call when they have questions. In some cases, calling the central institutional switchboard with questions about a CE offering can lead to confusion for staff—who focus on traditional credit programming—leading to a poor student experience.  

Communication between CE staff and learners needs to be seamless. Students have to be able to ask a question and get a response from the right person in a timely manner. 

The integration between Modern Campus Signal Vine into the Modern Campus Continuing Education suite provides that specific seamlessness, allowing CE staff and advisors to reach students at the touch of a button. 

What’s more, inbound messages go through an automated triage process. Frequently asked questions can be replied to by the system with predefined messages, while more unique requests can be filtered through to staff. 

That means staff gets their time and energy back to focus on more challenging issues. 

A Pathway Forward 

Higher education institutions are the gateway to lifelong learning. 

That means CE units have a great deal of responsibility, and their learners carry massive expectations. Meeting those expectations — and exceeding them — requires modernizing the infrastructure that the business is built upon. 

Modern Campus has a solution suite that streamlines operations and enhances the learner experience for CE divisions, as well as a product that allows any higher ed division to design and send personalized SMS communications at scale.  

And so, in 2022, Modern Campus launched a Connector designed to merge these capabilities, bringing SMS text messaging to CE! 

Introducing adaptive SMS text messaging is a key step for delivering the student-centric communication today’s learners expect. By leveraging Modern Campus, you can meet these learner engagement goals and thrive at your institution. 


Modern Campus

Signal Vine + Lumens Connector

Conversational Text Messaging with Current and Prospective Students to Propel Enrollment and Credential Completion

Send personalized SMS communication at scale

Shauna Cox

Shauna Cox

Shauna Cox is the Editor-in-Chief of The EvoLLLution, the online newspaper developed by Modern Campus to create a conversation hub focused on non-traditional higher education and the transforming postsecondary marketplace. She began her Modern Campus journey with The EvoLLLution in 2019, and has since added Content Marketing Manger to her title. Shauna works personally with every contributor at The EvoLLLution to produce the content that has supported the site’s rise to becoming the top resource for non-traditional higher education. She earned her BA in Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University, and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Connect with her on LinkedIn:

Scaling Non-Degree Education

Last updated: June 21, 2023


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