GCC Connects with Students Through Text Messaging

A record 325 visitors attended Genesee Community College’s Academic Open House last week, and one reason for high turnout may have been a surprising “cell-ing” point: everyone who was invited was able to sign up for the November 11th event – by text message.

Recruitment Communications Specialist Hal S. Legg says he began piloting text message open house registration last fall after conversations with college students about their cellular phone use. “I was stunned to learn how many students texted more than they talked,” Legg says. “Text message open house registration seemed like a natural extension of that fact.”

Legg says that immediacy makes texting an incredibly attractive means of communicating with high school juniors and seniors, many of whom are extremely tech-savvy but may not know the ins and outs of College recruitment events.

“When it comes right down to it, the more approachable the College is, the better,” he says. “And text messaging reduces the amount of effort it takes to register for an open house literally to mere thumbstrokes. In a way, texting puts the College on the same wavelength as 17-year-olds.”

But, exactly how easy is it?

Says Legg, each printed and directly mailed invitation to the open house contained a nine-digit code that was unique to its recipient. “Just punch in your code, hit ‘Send,’ and you’re done,” he says. “It’s lightning fast compared with phone-in or online transactions, which take on a kind of question-and-answer format—‘What is your name? What’s your address?’ — and so on.”

According to Vice President for Student and Enrollment Services Ginny Taylor, Genesee has a tradition of staying ahead of the curve in connecting with student prospects.

“We went live with online registration before most of our peers. We began using personalized direct mail to promote open houses in 2005. And now we’re starting our second year with text,” Taylor says. “On one hand, we’ve come a long way. But I also feel like we have a long way to go, too, because young people today are so in tune with communication technology. Yesterday, it was the Web. Today, it’s text. Tomorrow, who knows?”

Assistant Dean of Enrollment Services Tanya Lane-Martin welcomes the chance to host an increasing number of visitors, regardless of how they register for campus events. “When prospective students and their parents attend one of our open houses, I can just feel their level of comfort with us rise,” says Lane-Martin. “I’m a fan of whatever it takes to bring families here because I know they’ll like what they see.”

Another thing that’s been rising at the College is the popularity of recruitment events. Open house attendance doubled between the 2001-2002 and 2007-2008 school years. Now, on the heels of a record-setting turnout at its Academic Open House this past Tuesday, Genesee again is poised to attract more visitors than ever this academic year.

Open house planners now are looking forward to their next event, which will take place at the following seven college locations on December 10 at 6 p.m. Text registration again will be an option for those planning to attend. Texts Legg, “We l b xited 2 cu @ GCC”

  • Albion, 456 West Avenue / 585-589-4936
  • Arcade, 25 Edward Street / 585-492-5265
  • Batavia, One College Road / 585-345-6800
  • Dansville, 9221 Robert Hart Drive / 585-335-7820
  • Lakeville, 5999 Big Tree Road / 585-346-5070
  • Medina, 11470 Maple Ridge Road / 585-798-1688
  • Warsaw, 115 Linwood Avenue / 585-786-3010
Interested attendees can also register the ‘old fashioned way’ by clicking on the College’s special website: www.genesee.edu/openhouse or by calling 866-CALL-GCC, toll free.