What to Say, When to Say It: Developing Your Student Engagement Plan

One of our most important responsibilities as college success practitioners is to remind our students that they’re not in this alone. When they face unavoidable challenges along the path towards a degree, it can make all the difference to know they’ve got someone in their corner.

Better yet, you can offer more than moral support. You’ve been down this path before and are equipped with the wisdom and resources that can help each student cross the graduation stage. But how you can you scale your engagement to reach each and every student – with the right information, at the right time?

Here are five key considerations when creating your student engagement plan.

WHO is your audience? Every student faces unique challenges in college, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t sharing any common experiences. Ever feel like you’re repeating yourself? You may be doubling your work by communicating with one student at a time, when the same information and resources would benefit others.

Grouping your students in different ways can help you deliver content that’s most relevant and timely. For example, incoming freshmen may be interested in content around adjusting to college life or time management – topics that will be relevant to someone starting out on their college journey. Other segments to consider include community college students, where we often see lower persistence and graduation rates; students on academic probation, or in stop out/drop out status; or students pursuing certain majors with unique requirements, such as nursing or pre-med.

WHAT messaging will be most relevant and meaningful? Below you’ll find examples of content and delivery channels tailored to different student audiences. While this doesn’t aim to be a comprehensive list, it may provide some thought starters as you consider your own students and the type of messaging that would benefit them.

Prioritize creating new content when you have a unique perspective to offer your students. But don’t forget to follow other college success content creators, from trending YouTubers to other organizations, scholarships, and universities, to share relevant links and resources with students – without reinventing the wheel. GradSnapp engagement features like Student Resources and the newsfeed offer an ideal platform for curating this content. 

WHERE should you get the message out? Your students are bombarded by messaging all day long. Cut through the clutter by sharing your content through multiple channels. For example, when you write a detailed blog post about time management, pull a quote to push via text message with a link to the post, and publish on your social channels as well. Content creation can be time-consuming, and you can maximize your impact by delivering it across all relevant platforms.

WHEN will this content be most timely for your students? At Dell Scholars, our fall webinar series kicks off in September with “Time Management Tools” to help students start the semester off strong. When students receive their financial aid refunds in October, our next webinar serves as a reminder on “Saving Money and Other Good Financial Habits,” and by November, we provide end-of-semester encouragement with “Secrets to Self-Motivation.”

Ahead of each semester, take the time to map out your communications plan across the calendar, considering when each topic will be most timely for your students.

WHY should you create a student engagement plan? Every single day, our students are facing challenges that could impact their journey towards graduation, and ultimately their path in life. There are countless examples of students who persevered thanks to a call that came in at just the right moment, a reminder that they’re not on this journey alone.