Tell Me How to Talk to You: Institutional communications in a noisy era

Times have changed.

It used to be that university administrators had no problem sharing important information with students. “Social networking” largely took place at students’ mailboxes. Students’ “primary phones” were the ones in their residence hall rooms. (Their “secondary” ones? That would have to be the phone booth in the parking lot.) And you could always speak directly to the entire student body at weekly mandatory chapel services.

Today, communicating with students isn’t always quite so straightforward.

It’s not that the university can’t send messages to its students. We have more means of doing that today than at any point in our 123-year history. It’s that we don’t always know which means of communicating a given message will stick with students. With parents. With alumni.

Some students go their entire careers without touching the phone in their residence hall. They don’t bother with the university voicemail system. A quick look in the recycling bins by the student mailboxes shows where many university communications go immediately after a student swings open the little silver door. E-mails get deleted, forgotten, ignored. Bright, bloated bulletin boards are breezed past.

It’s a noisy world. It’s a hurried world. And it’s tough to be heard—even when your message is critical.

Maybe you can tell us. What’s the best way for the university to reach your student with important information?

While we’re at it, what’s the best means to communicate with you? Let us know below.

We’re listening.

There’s a sentence you don’t hear every day anymore: We’re listening.

Student Communication

Texting students that they have an important e-mail would work best for my child. My son missed the dorm sign up for next year because he neither looks at his mailbox or e-mail. He will now though!

Communication Preferences

To contact my student, use his cell phone for urgent; his email for all other information.
To contact parents, use our cell phone for urgent; our email for all other information.



Thanks for your comments

Thank you for commenting on our story. I would like to mention that we are not looking for specific information such as phone numbers or email addresses. We would like to hear from you about the means of communication you prefer. For example, email, SMS, phone, campus mail, etc. I apologize if we didn't make that clear enough in the story.

I would also like to thank you for subscribing to the newsletter. We will be improving it and incorporating new ideas along the way, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me at



to contact my student use his

to contact my student use his cell phone for immediate information, use his email for other information that isn't urgent.
To contact us parents, cell phone again for urgent/emergent information and email for all other information

Institutional Communication

E-mail is best for me personally and professionally.
My student daughter prefers NWU communication through her campus e-mail.
We just can't rely on tracking paper notes or messages as our mobility and business demands don't allow for multiple files and file cabinets.

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