Rise of the machines on college campuses

Ray Bendici:

Students accepted by Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina receive an introductory text message from Winston, the institution’s AI chatbot. Winston first congratulates them and then supports them through the onboarding process, says Joel Lee, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment management.

“We wanted a better way to meet students and communicate in the ways they are communicating. Unlike email or traditional mail, texts have basically a 100 percent open rate.”

Introduced a little more than a year ago, Winston can now answer 75 percent of inquiries—or 3,000 to 4,000 questions—from incoming students. This past June, the peak period for incoming student questions, Winston engaged with 2,000 students, sending more than 42,000 texts.