Brian Ruhlmann

When Brian is working to help schools better engage with current and prospective students, he is evangelizing Boston sports teams or working on his Craft Hot Sauce website.
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Recent Posts

Texting and Privacy Laws: What schools must know when texting students

Posted by Brian Ruhlmann on October 17, 2016

Considering that 90 percent of text messages are read within 3 minutes and 45 percent elicit a response from the recipient, it seems like texting should play a big part in colleges’ communications and outreach strategies, right?

In a word, yes! But it’s important to understand how texting and privacy laws and consumer protection regulations relate to schools' efforts to properly and effectively text students.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. And there are key differences among various schools: whether they’re nonprofit or for-profit, how and when they’re engaging with students, the intent and nature of the messages they’re sending. But all colleges and universities should be aware of a few laws pertaining to texting prospective and current students and their families.


One of the most important acts to abide by is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA was passed by Congress in 1991 to stop telemarketers from sending out unwanted messages to millions of people without any way to opt out of these messages. At a high level, the TCPA prohibits telemarketers from calling or texting without prior express consent when using an autodialer or mass calling/texting system. The three main parts of the TCPA are Do-Not-Call Restrictions, Limitations on Prerecorded Calls, and Limitations on Calls and Texts to Mobile Phones using an Autodialer.

The twist for many schools is that tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations are not subject to some provisions of the TCPA. Schools that send out informational and educational information are well within the bounds of allowable territory. Nonprofits in general are not held to as high of a standard as commercial organizations in terms of getting consent before calling or messaging. For nonprofits they must have oral consent or express consent. For example, this could come from the Common Application or an opt-in box on a webform or inquiry card.

And if a student provides a cellphone number, schools are free to assume consent. (We also recommend confirming consent via an initial text message, but there’s more on that below.)

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Topics: College Admissions, colleges, messaging, texting, recruitment

Your students are messaging. Are you?

Posted by Brian Ruhlmann on October 14, 2016

Text messaging and messaging apps are trending up as more and more people, especially young people, get smartphones and use them to communicate with one another and the world at large.

Messaging has both great breadth, in terms of the vast audience it reaches, and great depth, in terms of how engaged and responsive recipients of messages are. Consider:

  • The number of users on messaging applications has exceeded the number of users on social media. Check out Business Insider's report showing the rapid expansion of messaging:
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Topics: chatbot, College Admissions, colleges, texting, retention, student success, facebook messenger, recruitment

Reinvigorating the college search and application process

Posted by Brian Ruhlmann on September 8, 2016
Way back when I when I began my college search (in 2007, which I'm told was only yesterday when I talk to some of my seniors about it), I wasn't too excited about the process. And I certainly wasn't leading the charge... I knew I wanted to go to college, but when my parents would bring up pairing my summer vacation with visiting schools, I became very good at quickly moving the conversation to another topic.

To be fair, I did have some friends who really enjoyed exploring and dreaming of the possibilities at different colleges they visited. But when I think back on my college hunt, I get flashbacks of the enormous "Fiske Guide to Colleges" book, surfing the internet to skim generic descriptions of colleges, and generally feeling overwhelmed by what my parents and others were telling me would be the biggest decision of my life to that point.
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Topics: College Admissions, colleges, recruitment

Texting strategies throughout the student lifecycle

Posted by Brian Ruhlmann on August 30, 2016
Virtual assistants, a.k.a. chatbots, can help you out with any number of different functions, like telling you that you need an umbrella when you leave home, building daily to-do lists, and even recommending movies based on your interests. 
AdmitHub specializes in building custom, comprehensive virtual assistants that help colleges guide and serve their students to and through college, but there's an added benefit for these colleges. Each custom chatbot also reduces the burden that university staff members face on a daily basis. Virtual assistants have a variety of different applications that are helpful for students and also drive important metrics for colleges like yield and retention. Here are a number of different ways universities can use a text-messaging virtual assistant or chatbot throughout the student lifecycle.

Texting with Prospective Students

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Topics: chatbot, College Admissions, colleges, chatbots, messaging, texting, retention, student success

A little texting can go a long way toward improving student success and retention

Posted by Brian Ruhlmann on July 28, 2016

How well do you know the state of student success in higher education in the United States?

Let’s find out with a four-question pop quiz!

True or False:

  1. More than 50 percent of students who enroll at a four-year college receive a bachelor’s degree in six years or less.
  1. More than 30 percent of students who go to a two-year college earn an associate’s degree in three years or less.
  1. The biggest reason students drop out is because they can’t afford tuition.
  1. More than 50 percent of college students who drop out report that they were responsible for paying for school themselves.
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Topics: chatbot, College Admissions, colleges, chatbots, messaging, texting, retention, student success