Texas Christian University is a private, non-profit higher education research institution in Fort Worth, Texas. Established in 1873 as one of the southwest’s first co-ed universities, the school is home to 10,523 undergraduate students and boasts a graduation rate of approximately 82%. With core concentrations such as registered nursing, finance, speech communication, marketing, and political science, the school attracts a wide array of incoming students every year – the student body comprises individuals from all 50 states and 76 different nations.
The diversity of the university's student population can make it challenging for incoming students to form meaningful relationships with their peers, feel at ease in their new surroundings, and identify unique growth opportunities. Although social media platforms can play a critical role in fostering digital engagement among students, these channels have limitations – students can’t communicate privately and confidentially. Individuals need to filter through large groups of incoming students to find others who might even potentially share similar interests with them.
Thankfully, many universities understand the importance of helping students build a community they can turn to for academic support and social networking. Texas Christian University set out to aid its incoming students in achieving just this.
Using Digital Engagement To Build a Community
Texas Christian University wanted to implement an initiative that not only introduced incoming students to one another but also helped the school better understand its student body. Looking to steer students toward virtual communities and social networks other than Facebook and LinkedIn, the university took an alternative approach to encouraging student engagement in higher education – the use of a BrightCrowd digital book!
The incoming Class of 2027 was broken into three segments, each representing a unique group of individuals: general students, fall transfers, and honor students. Because personal attributes differed among each segment, no two digital books would share a similar focus. For example, first-time college students may need more personalized information to help them feel a sense of belonging. In contrast, transfer students may have already become accustomed to college and are looking for a general guide or "directory" where they can find students in similar situations.
Digital engagement must begin before students ever step foot on campus. The months leading up to the start of the school year are often filled with anxiety as students prepare to venture off into the unknown – the ability to interact with fellow classmates can help ease any feelings of overwhelm.
As a result, Texas Christian University used its digital books to gather information that would be most relevant to its incoming students. Some questions or prompts in the books related to a student’s interests and hobbies, designated area of study, assigned residence hall, clubs they hoped to join, and what they found most exciting about attending the university. Not only did this help students build a community, but it allowed the school to interact with students and obtain valuable information for current and future reference.
Evaluating Students’ Responses to BrightCrowd
Given that BrightCrowd's digital books can come to fruition within minutes, students can quickly receive invitations to fill out their individual pages and conduct searches for fellow classmates. With regards to Texas Christian University, the school witnessed the following statistics:
- Nearly 2,000 incoming students created pages across all three books
- Over 150 students made their own page within the first 24 hours of receiving their invitation
- There have been over 377,000 page views
- Students clicked contact buttons approximately 12,500 times
- 1,500 students have made updates to their original submission
Incoming students have been eager to engage in the school’s initiatives – a 65% participation rate occurred across all three books. So, what can the university take away from this data? The answer is clear: students are interested in establishing connections with their classmates before attending school. In doing so, students can increase their confidence, build their social skills, and set themselves up for success. Meanwhile, the university can use this information to help professors tailor their teaching approaches to best meet the needs of their individual students.
BrightCrowd’s digital books help colleges like Texas Christian University build a community for incoming students that’ll foster a profound sense of unity. Contact us today to learn how you can further support your university’s student body.