The largest freshman class in the history of the University of Oklahoma was made possible, at least in part, by an artificial intelligence system called SoonerBot.
Since May 2018, any prospective student who had a question about applying or joining the OU family could go to the University’s Admissions and Recruitment webpage and ask SoonerBot directly.
Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications Bryce Kunkel, from the division of Enrollment Management, said today’s students are looking for immediate, bite-sized information.
“They are used to engaging with schools online and AI across other industries, so SoonerBot is very natural for this group of students,” Kunkel said. “Also, SoonerBot allows our first-generation students or students unfamiliar with OU to have a platform to engage and ask questions in a low-key and unassuming environment.”
Many of the students joining OU this fall have interacted with SoonerBot in some capacity, Kunkel said.
“Over the past year, we have tracked an increase in SoonerBot interactions, and ultimately a decrease in incoming call volume, which means more students are finding the information they need online,” he said. “This helps with call wait time and allows admissions counselors to spend more quality time with prospective students.”
To date, there have been over 28,000 conversations with the bot.
OU is one of the most innovative and competitive schools in its use of AI chatbots, and in the future, SoonerBot, developed by Ivy.ai, may integrate with other systems on campus.
In the future, users may be able to ask SoonerBot questions about their application status or current bursar balance and receive an answer.
Kunkel said while the system has limitations, it’s getting smarter every day. And in the meantime, if a user stumps SoonerBot or wants to speak directly to a human, all the user must do is type “human” to be connected with an admissions counselor during business hours.