What is Conversational AI for higher education?

Sep 7, 2023 | 4 min read

Today, students are used to a world where they can order exotic cuisine at any hour and ask Snapchat AI for birthday party ideas at the touch of a scroll. To them, the idea of “office hours” is unfathomable. They want answers the moment an idea strikes, and the idea of restricting access to information after 5pm or at weekends just doesn’t fly anymore.

But here’s the catch: simply tossing a static PDF onto your website won’t do the trick. As MIT Sloan Management Review wisely advises, “don’t confuse digital with digitization.” The game-changer here is Conversational AI (CAI), the magical missing link that transforms automated back-end processes into an easy-to-use interface requiring minimal training or navigation. All students need to do is strike up a chat.

At its core, Conversational AI is like having a talkative virtual assistant by your side – a chatty digital guide that can effortlessly steer your students through their higher education journey. 

Empowering students with Conversational AI

It’s not just about handling the easy questions like, “I forgot my student ID.” Conversational AI can tackle complex, multi-phase tasks like, “I’d like to apply for a master’s program,” breaking them down into step-by-step interactions tailored to individual needs and preferences.

With Conversational AI, students can initiate conversations 24/7, get instant support throughout the admissions process, learn about campus life, or get details about financial aid offerings – whenever they need it.

So, let’s explore the exciting world of Conversational AI and how it’s revolutionizing the way students navigate their educational paths, all while enhancing the efficiency of higher education organizations.

Unlocking the Power of Conversational AI in Higher Education

We work with a number of higher education organizations already harnessing Conversational AI to power round-the-clock conversations that support processes like:

And it’s working. The benefits of AI for higher education are limitless. Conversational AI offers a myriad of benefits:

Conversational AI becomes the friendly face of your backend systems, making information that once required lengthy back-and-forth email chains or inconvenient in-person appointments accessible through a simple chat. Best yet, students can ask questions in their own words on their own terms. Tasks like navigating application steps, adding or dropping courses, or making tuition payments become as easy as asking a personal assistant like Siri or Cortana to schedule an appointment. 

From admissions to graduation, Conversational AI revolutionizes the traditional ‘form-filling’ process. Instead of a student manually going through an application, Conversational AI teams up with your hyperautomation tech stack, which could include Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Document Processing (IDP). 

Each step turns into a conversation. Functions like upload buttons, form fields, and identify verification processes become part of a chat exchange, all while the underlying form remains completely invisible to the student. It’s a win-win for both higher educational institutions and students alike.

Gen Z’s Demand for Efficiency

The media often ribs Gen Z for their supposed short attention spans, but the reality is quite different. They are avid consumers of long-form content that snaps their curiosity and are in fact leading a resurgence in Young Adult (YA) book sales.

But here’s the thing: what they don’t have time for are needlessly drawn-out manual processes that deviate from the one-click simplicity they’re used to. Older generations may remember carving out dedicated time to tackle admin tasks (maybe you watched your parents painstakingly balance their checkbooks or sort through stacks of paper bills). 

Now, these processes need to fit into the nooks and crannies of a busy student’s day. They want to quickly add a course after a night shift or effortlessly upload a transcript while scrolling social media.

In an era where information overload is the norm, students of younger generations are naturally drawn to brands, schools, and banks that are willing to do some of the process-heavy lifting for them. This is where Conversational AI steps in, automating tasks through friendly and convenient conversations.

Enhancing Student Engagement: 3 on-campus use cases for Conversational AI

Is your website loaded with FAQ pages for students to sift through? These pages do little to cultivate lasting relationships with incoming students, something that’s often seen as the Holy Grail of a winning student engagement strategy.

Conversational AI can do a great job of acting as an automated yet personalized tour guide, turning every touchpoint into a relationship-building opportunity. Instead of rigid, one-size-fits-all processes, Conversational AI turns them into dynamic conversations tailored to each student’s unique needs.

Let’s explore three ways Conversational AI brings together cross-campus technology into one student-focused conversation.

Streamlined Course scheduling

Students can add/drop courses while on-the go and receive curated feedback on how their decisions affect their degree plan.

Conversational AI goes beyond problem-solving; it can make proactive suggestions that simplify a student’s academic journey. For instance, if a particular course won’t be offered for several semesters, Conversational AI can highlight this and offer alternatives.

Effortless Transcript handling 

Whether a prospective student is interested in transferring credits or a soon-to-be graduate needs their coursework sent to a new employer, Conversational AI streamlines the process.

By integrating with other hyperautomation technologies (such as identify verification through photo comparison), Conversational AI turns transcript requests into a process that takes days, not weeks. 

Responsive Student Support

Conversational AI doesn’t just wait for inquiries; it can also proactively reach out to students based on data analysis. For example, if a student begins missing classes, Conversational AI can flag this and connect them with relevant campus support services, like financial aid.

Additionally, Conversational AI can bridge the gap between students and the support programs available on campus. Often, students are unaware of assistance programs for financial, housing, or food insecurity. Conversational AI acts as a one-stop-shop where students can ask anything, ensuring they get the support they need.

A recent study shows that two-thirds of students that could have used financial, emergency housing, or food insecurity support never applied—simply because they didn’t know the programs existed.

In essence, Conversational AI consolidates all your cross-campus technology into one seamless conversation. Say goodbye to fragmented processes, the uncertainty of “whom to ask,” or endless email chains. With Conversational AI, everything gets done in one chat, making student engagement and support more efficient and effective than ever.

Ready to reshape conversations on your campus? 

Let our team of higher education automation experts show you how Conversational AI can get the conversation going on your campus. Book a meeting today

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