Utah Valley University Engaged 70% of First-Year First-Generation Students Through Text Messaging

How a large, public university leverages Modern Campus Signal Vine to support retention and the First-Year Experience

About Utah Valley University







first-generation students



students age 25+

The Challenge

The first-year experience (FYE) and retention team at Utah Valley University wanted a better way to engage with students. The team found that first-year students were overwhelmed and unresponsive to email. First-generation students were particularly overwhelmed and presented a retention risk.

Staff knew that texting would be a great solution—a way to connect with modern learners and provide essential tools to support persistence. 

The Implementation 

The FYE team focused their intial texting efforts on first-generation students and first-year students at large, with a different communication path designed for each. 

The goals were to communicate with students before they arrived on campus to ensure they were registered, had the pertinent financial aid details, and started acclimating to student life.

The programs followed the following paths:

Communication path for first-generation first-year students

first-generation student path

Communication path for all first-year students

first-year student path

The Results

Utah Valley University saw great initial engagement results and continues to monitor retention performance to measure impact. The first-generation student segment had an engagement rate of 70%, with many students asking questions before reaching campus.

The broader first-year group had a lower engagement rate but, although students did not directly respond to messages, they still followed the nudges and acccepted invitations. In addition, the team saw some great qualitative feedback from students and proof that texting helps surface challenges and opportunities that impact retention.


Sample text responses from Utah Valley University students

bubbles with example student texts

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About Modern Campus

Modern Campus is obsessed with empowering its 1,200+ higher education customers to thrive when radical transformation is required to respond to lower student enrollments and revenue, rising costs, crushing student debt and even school closures.

Powered by Omni CMS, DIGARC, Presence, Signal Vine, and Destiny One, the Modern Campus modern learner engagement platform enables innovative institutions to create a “learner to earner” lifecycle that engages modern learners for life.


Delivering massive personalization, AI-driven recommendations and a modern e-commerce engine, Modern Campus creates a student-first digital experience and removes silos across campus. Presidents and provosts, marketing and IT teams, admissions, registrars, student affairs and CE divisions can partner to attract, enroll, empower, retain, credential and re-engage students with pathways for lifelong learning.

Learn how Modern Campus is leading the modern learner engagement movement at moderncampus.com and follow us on LinkedIn.

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