NSSE sends five institution-customized recruitment messages directly to students. Institutions may customize message content using NSSE’s IRB-approved message templates to ensure that message content and signatory best reflect campus culture.
Two recruitment methods are available with NSSE: Email and Regular Mail. Email recruitment includes five email messages; Regular Mail recruitment includes three contacts sent sent via United States Postal Service (USPS). If Regular Mail institutions provide email addresses in addition to physical mailing addresses in their NSSE population file, two email reminders will be sent to non-respondents following the three USPS contacts.
Email recruitment methods include individualized survey links through which students can access the survey directly without supplying additional login information. Students recruited by USPS messages are provided the survey URL and login credentials, and must access the survey and login manually. Given the ease of accessing the survey by email, and considering that email recruitment includes more message contacts by default, the vast majority of institutions elect email recruitment.
Summary of NSSE Recruitment - Email or Regular (USPS) Mail
|this cell blank||Email||Regular Mail|
|Institutional Considerations||Email addresses are accurate and readily available. By default, a census administration is conducted meaning all first-year and senior students are contacted (unless a random sample is requested).||Local addresses are accurate; email addresses are not reliable. By default, a random sample is taken based on undergraduate enrollment.|
|Invitation||A customized email is sent to all first-year and senior students.||Customized letters sent to a random sample of first-year and senior students by USPS.|
|Reminder 1||Nonrespondents receive customized emails.||Nonrespondents receive a customized reminder letter.|
|Reminder 2||Nonrespondents receive customized emails.||Nonrespondents receive a customized postcard.|
|Reminder 3||Nonrespondents receive customized emails.||Recruitment concludes, unless email addresses are provided, then nonrespondents receive a customized email.|
|Reminder 4||Nonrespondents receive customized emails.||Recruitment concluded, unless email addresses are provided, then nonrespondents receive a customized email.|
|Final Reminder||Nonrespondents receive customized emails.||Recruitment concluded, unless email addresses are provided, then nonrespondents receive a customized email.|
Additional Messages Sent by Your Campus
Institutions using either recruitment method may send up to three additional recruitment messages, from their own campus, using NSSE’s IRB-approved message template, in addition to the messages sent from NSSE. Messages sent by campuses do not include the unique survey links provided in recruitment messages sent by NSSE; instead, students are directed to visit nssesurvey.org where they can manually login using an easy, one-step verification process. Institutions that send additional messages are responsible for all aspects of the mailing (i.e., deciding when to send messages, determining their purpose, etc.). Some reasons an institution may choose to send an additional message(s) include:
- Pre-survey announcement: Many institutions may benefit from notifying the campus community about NSSE prior to the start of data collection. A pre-survey announcement can introduce students to NSSE and, importantly, provide rationale for why student participation is important. Importantly, since NSSE’s emails will be sent from an email address external to other campus communications, it may be beneficial to use the pre-survey announcement to specify details of students should expect, such as the sending “from” name (NSSE), the sending email address (email@example.com), and the expected dates of delivery. This may be especially beneficial on campuses with anti-phishing campaigns warning students to be wary of communications from external senders. A pre-survey announcement gives you the opportunity to establish NSSE’s legitimacy in advance of data collection.
- Boosting response rates: Institutions that experience lower response rates than desired may choose to send additional messages to increase the number of total respondents. Messages may be sent at any time prior to the May 15 closing of the online survey.
- Targeting special populations: Additional messages may be sent to all non-respondents, or to only those that are currently underrepresented in respondent count. For example, if your senior response rate is satisfactory but first-year student response rate lags behind, additional messages may be sent to only first-year non-respondents.
NSSE’s Institution Interface, the password-protected online portal used to manage the NSSE administration by campus contacts, provides a download of your student population file, along with survey dispositions. You can use this file to prepare your mailing list for additional messages.