Southwest Tennessee Community College Increased Graduation Credentials by 20%

How an open-access community college leverages Modern Campus Message to increase student retention and graduation

About Southwest Tennessee Community College









full-time retention rate

The Challenge

Southwest’s enrollment and retention numbers were declining. By 2016, enrollment had dropped seven years in a row. Similarly, graduation rates were not on the right track. At that time, college staff were using a one-way texting platform to reach students.

As a result of these sharp declines, the Retention & Student Success team realized that they needed to rethink how they communicate with students. They tried email but found that students rarely read and responded to those outreach efforts. Staff agreed that they needed a real-time, two-way method of communication that would connect students with support services and, when necessary, prompt students to take action. 



The Advising Office coordinated the implementation of the Modern Campus Message two-way texting platform. Around 14 professional academic advisors (PAAs) were trained to use Message.

Southwest staff first tested the platform by texting Tennessee Promise students who had just finished high school. Staff scheduled texts with event invitations, deadline reminders and general check-ins. At first, PAAs took turns checking for student texts through the day. The team chose to send texts every Monday and Thursday to help students get in the routine of receiving important information via text.

Later, staff scaled the reach of the program to include every student. Instead of taking turns to check for texts, the Retention & Student Success program specialists and PAAs divided students into caseloads, a change that was warmly accepted by students. 

The team has also broadened their discussion topics with student; they now text students about barriers to academic success, advising needs, e-weekly announcements, tech needs and more.


After  Message texting platform was scaled college-wide, staff saw a 20 percent increase in graduation credentials, year over year. What's more, retention has increased by 3 to 6 percentage points for the past 2 years. In 2018-2019, Southwest’s enrollment numbers moved the college forward to becoming the second largest community college in the State of Tennessee.

Among the Tennessee Promise (traditional learners) and Tennessee Reconnect (adult learners) populations, fall-to-spring retention is nearly 80 percent—more than 25 points above the overall retention rate. College staff also note a large increase in spring-to-spring enrollment over the past year.

Finally, the college has experienced a notable increase in performance funding as a result of the college’s holistic success efforts, which includes the strategic use of the Message two-way texting platform.

Impact of Texting Messaging, by the Numbers



Up to 6%

increase in retention



increase in graduation credentials



retention rate among scholarship recipients

Discover additional ways you can use text messaging to connect students with campus resources, extend staff resources and boost retention—and how doing so fits into the entire learner journey—in our free guide:


How Text Messaging Supports Every Stage of the Higher Education Journey - download now



About Modern Campus

Modern Campus empowers 1,700+ higher education institutions to attract, engage, and retain learners for life with software solutions that enable a modern student experience. 

The Modern Campus learner-to-earner lifecycle platform powers solutions for web content managementconversational text messagingcatalog and curriculum managementcareer pathwaysstudent engagement and development, and non-traditional student management. The result: innovative institutions engage their modern learners for life, while providing modern administrators with the tools needed to streamline workflows and drive high efficiency.  

Learn how Modern Campus is leading the modern learner-to-earner movement at and follow us on LinkedIn. 

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