Recruitment Message Tips

Tips for Recruitment Message Customization


  • Customize the message so that it fits the "voice" of your campus. Are messages to students usually formal, or informal? Are there certain words or phrases that help appropriately brand the message for your institution?
  • Tell students how the data will be used to improve their educational experience. Do you have past examples of how data has changed campus life for the better? Share it!
  • Select a signatory that students recognize and trust. When no customized signatory is entered, NSSE will insert the name of the Campus Project Manager (CPM).
  • If using multiple signatories, make sure the message text uses "us" and "we" instead of "me" and "I".
  • Make sure that the contact name and email address listed in the body of the email match (i.e., "contact Sam Smith at").
  • Many students check email on a smartphone so you may want to keep content as brief as possible, particularly in the subject line.
  • The default "from name" on recruitment messages is NSSE, and thus aligns with the sending email address ( Institutions may customize the "from name" so that student recruitment messages appear to come from someone known and trusted on campus (i.e., the President or Provost) but use caution if customizing this field. Many college and university campuses instruct students to distrust emails displaying names that differ from the sending email address because of concern about phishing scams; in those cases, we recommend institutions retain "NSSE" as the from name. Otherwise, institutions may benefit from personalizing the sender name to reinforce that the request to complete NSSE is a campus initiative. Choose carefully, as edits are not accommodated after message customization closes in early December.


  • DON’T say that responses to NSSE are anonymous, unless you have provided alternate student IDs so that students cannot be identified in the NSSE data file.
  • Participating in NSSE is voluntary, so don’t suggest that a student must submit survey responses under any circumstance. Cajole participation, but don’t demand it!
  • DON’T reference incentives in the subject line. While it may seem like a good idea, IRB guidelines do not allow for it. Subject-line phrases that communicate a sense of urgency (such as “last chance!”) and words associated with incentives (for example, “winning” and “prizes”) commonly trigger spam filters. Don’t render your incentive useless by guaranteeing that messages aren’t delivered!
  • Incentive text is submitted separately from the rest of message customization. Don’t restate your incentive in the message body. NSSE staff will review all incentive text separately and will integrate it into your customized message.