As COVID-19 shut down colleges in March 2020, we observed that the ones that successfully transitioned to remote service did not replace their existing student service model with a completely new one. Rather, they found ways to augment their staff and traditional processes with new technology.

Lee Lambert, Chancellor of Pima Community College, said it best: “What we do comes down to people. The people piece will not change. What’s going to have to be rethought is how we as humans interact with technology.”

Colleges are facing an existential crisis and are actively confronting immediate challenges to keep their institutions on a steady footing. Enrollments and FAFSA completions are down. So are budgets. Some are furloughing staff. And colleges were already outmatched pre-COVID when it came to effective student advising.

Collectively, these challenges are forcing schools to make hard decisions. The choices colleges make will have a lasting impact on the institution for years into the future. And short-term cuts could strain student advising and support, ultimately impacting access, completion, and student success.

AI chatbots -- given their versatility, affordability, ease of implementation, and scalability -- have emerged as a critical technology for colleges. Chatbots can tackle Tier 1 and some Tier 2 questions, improving the workflow, with staff tackling more complex situations.

Students engage with AI chatbots in a variety of ways. Some need personalized advising and answers around topics such as awards, refunds, etc. Others really prefer the “anonymous” experience. They effectively want “to get their information quickly” and not talk to a person. Or they want to navigate a sensitive issue that they feel requires discretion. Chatbots serve them all, 24/7 from any device.

Read the full article about AI chat bots by Damon Vangelis at Education Dive.