Why We Invested in AdmitHub

March 7, 2017

By: Esteban Sosnik and Chian Gong

We are thrilled to partner with Drew and the whole AdmitHub team to create conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to guide students to and through college. Artificial Intelligence is gaining momentum across the tech industry and education is no exception. We believe that applications of AI and machine learning in education hold enormous potential to improve teaching and learning by abstracting meaningful insights for students, teachers, and administrators — and AdmitHub is the perfect example of this.

In their 2014 publication, researchers Benjamin Castleman and Lindsay Page coined the term “summer melt” to describe the significant attrition of college-bound seniors. On average, 14% of admitted freshmen “melt” meaning they graduate from high school, earn admission to college but never make it through the doors the following Fall. It is particularly pronounced for low-income students where attrition is as high as 40%. A recent Hechinger Report article attributes this to “[…]tuition sticker shock, Kafkaesque paperwork requirements and a quiet, corrosive feeling that they don’t belong” which particularly impact first generation and lower-income families who have less of a support system to help them overcome these challenges

AdmitHub, founded in 2015 by a team with deep expertise in AI and college admissions, enables personal, ongoing communications between colleges and their students. College administrators hypothesize that regular touch points before and during a student’s college experience can improve both yield (the rate that admitted students enroll) and retention. Current methods of outreach — e.g. print mail, email, and phone — have not kept pace with how today’s college students communicate. AdmitHub’s conversational chat bots are available 24/7 via text message (and other messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger) to answer wide ranging questions like ‘When is FAFSA due?’ or ‘How do I register for classes?’ — it’s reaching students where they are (on mobile!) and supercharging college admissions officers and student support offices to provide personalized support to all students.

With AdmitHub, a newly admitted student has at their fingertips a helpful advisor who can answer, nearly any question about enrolling in college. Questions range from financial aid, to course enrollment, to housing and orientation, and on the rare occasions a question is too complicated or nuanced, the bot deliberately connects the student with the right advisor to help resolve their question.

A recent Georgia State University randomized controlled study has proven the efficacy of AdmitHub in their admissions process and how it can be transformative for colleges across America. AdmitHub allows college admissions and student support departments to provide a high level of service at a low cost. This frees up limited human resources and enables staffers to focus on higher leverage activities like relationship-building and responding to complex questions. Analytics from ongoing student communications provide insights to help colleges better understand and respond to students’ experiences.

In the first year of AdmitHub’s partnership with GSU, 99% of the 50,000 student messages received were fielded by Pounce (GSU’s mascot AND institutional chatbot) or AdmitHub staff overseeing the virtual assistant’s supervised machine learning process. Here is an example of a conversation with Pounce:

Perhaps most importantly, students really love the service — 94% of GSU’s incoming students would recommend AdmitHub’s chatbot, Pounce, for the next incoming class. Not only did students appreciate the swift response time and the 24/7 availability of the chatbot, but also they felt more comfortable asking sensitive questions that perhaps felt more difficult in other contexts. Take this 1am exchange between AdmitHub’s Pounce chatbot and a student as an example:

Bowling Green, West Texas A&M and Allegheny have joined Georgia State in bringing on AdmitHub to improve the student experience. The impact that AdmitHub has in addressing summer melt is only the beginning, we believe AdmitHub’s platform has potential to support students and transform their entire college experience from application to graduation, helping students on the path to and through college.

Reach is dedicated to increasing access to high quality education with the goal of preparing students for college and career success. AdmitHub has the potential to improve student outcomes by providing scalable support to students on their pathway to and through college. We are proud to partner with AdmitHub’s team in realizing this goal.