It is no surprise that in this deluge of emails, important ones are falling through the cracks.

If you have spoken to a student this semester, chances are high you heard some version of “I am getting WAY too many emails.”  Like many of us, students are currently inundated with emails telling them they need to do things, sharing information about events and opportunities, reminding them about assignments for their courses, or asking them to take surveys. It is no surprise that in this deluge of emails, students are having a hard time separating out the emails with transactional needs from the informative emails; therefore, important emails are falling through the cracks. We want to make sure students see the transactional emails, so we send email reminder after email reminder, which only adds to the overload of emails in students’ inboxes. Add on top of that the fact that students rate email as their least preferred method of communication. Is it any surprise students are throwing up their hands and just giving up on email?


To address this, we are undertaking two separate but related projects.  First, we are revitalizing the first year communication work Amy Martin and the Student Success Transformation Initiative started a few years ago when she was a UIA Fellow. The first student communications project team consisted of representatives from Admissions, the Registrar’s Office, RHS, OFA, Controller’s Office, and Student Services, and their work demonstrated the potential for creating an intentional and collaborative communication strategy. With our University Communication partners, we are exploring 1) How we create a collaborative communication strategy so that students get all the information they need without being overwhelmed with information; and 2) How we meet students where they are and communicate in the spaces and methods they prefer.

The second project we are starting is focused on student surveys.  Similar to student communication, we are not being strategic and intentional in how we survey students and use the results. For instance, we found out that over the summer, at least 5 different "Learning During COVID” surveys went out! Five! All asking very similar questions and going to almost all the same students. It’s no wonder we get low response rates from students.  To address this, we are bringing together a group to try to think about how we can 1) be more strategic about the content and timing of our surveys; 2) make sure we are able to take actionable steps with the results of the surveys and communicate this back to students, and 3) work to create a shared repository of survey results.

Both of these projects are in preliminary stages and will be kicking off in the spring. If you are interested in working on either of these projects, please reach out and let me know! 

Renata Opoczynski is the assistant dean for student success assessment and strategic initiatives.