Student-First Strategies: How Community Colleges Can Lead With Listening

Community colleges have a unique challenge in today's market: showcasing their benefits to prospective students while managing limited resources and an overwhelming to-do list. We've seen time and again that the key to standing out is to lead with listening. By understanding the wants and needs of their student populations, community colleges can create more effective programs and services that support student success. But gathering and analyzing this information can be a daunting task—especially for institutions with limited resources.

That's where Mainstay comes in. Mainstay’s engagement platform takes the guesswork out of understanding student needs by providing community colleges with direct insights from their students. Using personalized text messaging and empathetic AI chatbots, Mainstay helps colleges connect with students at scale and gather valuable feedback on their experiences.

This leading with listening approach is at the heart of Mainstay's platform. By prioritizing student feedback and insights, Mainstay helps colleges create more meaningful relationships with their students and deliver programs and services that meet students’ needs. So, instead of waiting weeks or even months to collect and analyze data using traditional methods, colleges can make adjustments to their programs and services on the fly.

In addition to providing personalized support, community colleges can boost student success by fostering a sense of belonging on campus. Students who feel like they are part of a community experience improved persistence, engagement, and mental health benefits. This is especially important for historically resilient students who may face additional barriers to success. By creating systems that promote inclusion, community colleges can ensure that all students feel seen, heard, and supported.

Sharing resources available to students is another crucial element of supporting student success. Many community college students face issues like food insecurity or financial hardships that can impact their academic performance. Sharing available resources about financial aid, emergency grants, food pantries, and counseling services can help students overcome these challenges and stay on track to graduate.

If a college notices that students are struggling with a particular course or aspect of campus life, they can quickly send out a targeted messaging campaign to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement. For example, Mainstay partnered with Ocean County College to launch an AI chatbot named Reggie that sends text message surveys to students, allowing the college to make actionable decisions based on real-time insights.

Thanks to this partnership, Ocean County College was able to secure a $75,000 state grant to bolster its food pantry and fight hunger on campus, increase tutoring appointments by over 400 percent in a single semester, and save hundreds of staff hours. This is just one example of how Mainstay's leading with listening approach can achieve incredible results for students and institutions.

Today’s community colleges have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and drive student success by leading with listening and fostering a sense of belonging at their institution. By fostering inclusivity and offering personalized support based on real-time insights, community colleges can create a culture of care and support that truly sets them apart.

Mainstay is an Innovations 2023 Advocate Sponsor.

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