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Engage and Retain Students with a Virtual Hug

November 3, 2020

Imagine being able to provide a virtual hug to students through an automated interactive call. Research has found that student drop-out rates can be reduced significantly in cases where outreach and intervention are initiated in the first six weeks of the semester. However, given that it takes an average of five call attempts to reach each student, there simply aren’t enough resources available at colleges and universities to make that happen.

That’s where automated calls (or virtual hugs) come in, helping students to remain engaged and on track for success. The principle notion is to call students during critical points in the semester to offer help in potential areas of need, which they may be facing. Automated calls to students helps improve retention rates at colleges and universities by reaching out to students by phone to identify their needs and help them achieve academic success by proactively connecting them with existing support services and resources. On average, 10 to 15% of students in colleges and universities are lost to student attrition each year.

An effective onboarding system calls the students a few different times during the school year. Starting a few weeks before the student arrives at the institution (to tell them what to bring, where to go, etc.) and then a couple weeks into the fall term to ensure that the student is doing well with the transition and directing them to existing resources. The process can even begin at the admissions and recruiting stage by contacting students before they have made a decision of which institution to attend and increase your chances of having them select yours! Then once students have left the school an automated system calls alumni to get statistics and useful information such as how many are currently working and what field they are working in; this kind of information is helpful for marketing to help attract new students. Such calls can also be used to increase funding by collecting donations from some of your alumni, by contacting a greater number in a shorter period of time.

The overall intent of virtual hugs to students is to improve retention by giving academic staff at-a-glance reporting on students’ level of risk and commitment. Students experiencing difficulty in an area are flagged. This empowers facilitators to focus time and attention on those students with early indicators to connect them with existing resources and support services before it’s too late.

An automated system that meets the need for more effective student engagement in higher education does the following:

  • ‍Make students aware of programs and resources available to them
  • Alert administrators immediately to students in need of intervention
  • Provide measurement regarding the effectiveness of programs and services
  • Improve the level of insight available to faculty and ensures an efficient allocation of resources in areas of highest need

This is what one of our customers said about our interactive student engagement solution, Scaller™.

“OCAD U considers Scaller a key component of its overall retention strategy. Just by making the call to students we see a significant impact in increased retention year over year. Scaller is easy to use, cost effective and makes a real difference in student retention.” – Kelly Dickinson, Manager, Student Advising, OCAD University

What steps has your school taken to retain students? Contact Vocantas to discuss Scaller, the student outreach software.

About  Vocantas Inc.          

Vocantas develops hosted and premise-based multi-modal communications solutions, including interactive voice, text and email, using advanced computer telephony and speech recognition technology to provide businesses and service providers with more efficient outreach capabilities. Vocantas solutions help organizations with complex scheduling environments and processes, and those in the higher education, utilities, healthcare, manufacturing, and customer service environments improve outreach and engagement while reducing operating costs. Visit for a free interactive demo of Vocantas solutions that intelligently respond to your customers.

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