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Getting Started with SMS

Communication and relationship building is at the heart of holistic advising, and we know that students often prefer to communicate using their mobile devices. 

Overview

Advisors and students can communicate with one another via SMS. Students will be able to opt in or out at any time via the Settings page, and they can note their preferred communication channel: email or SMS. Students can opt in or out separately to receive calendar notifications and to communicate with Advisors via SMS. Additionally, Civitas Learning can facilitate opting students in and out of SMS in bulk.

In the Communication area, the SMS inbox appears separately from the email inbox.

Advisors can select to send SMS messages to one or multiple students (e.g., to a group of students in a mass text; students will not see who else has been texted in a group), and can then use a chat UI to communicate back and forth with individual students. Advisors will be provisioned with their own individual phone number that is managed by Advising, and will do all SMS communication in the application. Students will receive messages on their mobile phones, and do not need to login to communicate, though they can see read-only versions of SMS messages in the application if they choose.

FAQ

Do students have to opt-in to receive SMS messages?

Students can opt in to receive SMS messages on their Student Profile. Alternatively, Civitas Learning can mark students opted-in or out in bulk if you use a different process for student SMS preferences.

How will students know if they've opted-in to SMS?

Students can see on their profile whether they’ve opted into SMS, and will automatically receive an SMS notification when they have opted in from their profile

When students are marked as opted in by Civitas Learning, you can decide whether or not you’d like them to receive an automated message.

Do students have to use a particular service provider to receive SMS messages?

There are no service provider requirements. SMS messages will be sent to the number on file in the SIS.

Do advisors need to have a mobile device to use SMS in the application?

All SMS messages from advisors and staff are sent from within the application and are not associated with a mobile device.

Can an advisor use an already existing mobile device or SMS number for messaging?

At this time, the SMS numbers used in the application are managed by Civitas on the backend and cannot be connected with an existing number.

Does each advisor have their own SMS number in the application?

Yes, each advisor or staff member has their own number which will remain assigned to them as long as their account remains in the application.

What happens if I try to send an SMS message to a student that has opted out of receiving SMS messages?

When a student who has opted out of receiving SMS messages is included in the SMS message, there is an option to add an email subject line and send the message as an email to those students.

How can I see how many SMS messages have been sent by an advisor?

When SMS is enabled, there is a column available on the Advisors page that shows the number of SMS messages sent per advisor.

Can students send SMS messages to an advisor without the advisor first reaching out?

If the student already has the advisor’s Advising SMS number, they can send a message to the advisor at any time, which will show up in the Communication inbox.

Are there any best practices for sending messages to students?

Yes! We recommend the following best practices:

  1. In your first message to a student from the application, identify yourself so the student knows who the message is coming from, and that it’s coming from a real person.
  2. Address students by name to let them know you’re directing the message at them. You can do this even when sending group messages by selecting the appropriate variable from the Customize drop-down on the message editor.
  3. Be concise in your message and avoid using robotic language. You want to make it easy for the student to understand why you’re reaching out and easy to see that you’re not a spam bot or marketing message.

For example: Hi Stephanie, this is your academic advisor Brenda! I noticed you haven’t registered for the Fall term yet. If you need help registering you can call the On Campus Advising Office at 555-123-4567, or text me with any questions.

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