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Boston, Massachusetts-based AdmitHub, a startup developing a chatbot platform aimed at boosting student enrollment and graduation rates, today revealed it has raised $16 million in a series B round led by Rethink Education. The company, which also announced it will be rebranding as Mainstay, plans to put the funds toward expanding its workforce and acquiring new education customers.

The percentage of school dropouts among 16- to 24-year-olds has shown decreases over the past 20 years. However, in the U.S., the overall graduation rate has also declined. Four-year institutions average a 60.4% graduation rate, while two-year institutions offering associate’s degrees average a 31.6% graduation rate. Owing to the pandemic, in fall 2020 college enrollments dipped by an estimated 400,000 students year-over-year.

AdmitHub, which was founded in 2014, combines AI, proactive nudges, and a knowledge base to engage students via text, email, and web chat. It offers a chatbot builder and trainer and analytics dashboard designed for those without a tech background, and it allows admins to sort student conversations based on priority level or relevant campaign.

AdmihHub claims to have reduced “summer melt” — the phenomenon of motivation to attend college “melting” away during the summer following high school — at Georgia State University by over 30%. In a randomized controlled trial, students with access to AdmitHub’s chatbot were 3.3% more likely to enroll, translating to a 21% reduction in summer melt.

The knowledge base AdmitHub’s chatbots draw on incorporates insights from over 4 million questions covering over 6,000 topics. Chatbots answer more than 80% of all student questions using natural language processing, according to AdmitHub, and they respond in less than two seconds when they’re confident of an answer.

AdmitHub

When an AdmitHub chatbot identifies a “priority” topic or doesn’t know the answer, questions are sent to a support team. As humans answer new questions, the knowledge base grows, making the chatbot “smarter.” Alternatively, it connects the questioner with advisors and resources.

AdmitHub says since its founding it’s been used by more than 3 million students across hundreds of colleges and universities, including state higher education systems and nonprofit organizations like the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Common App and College Advising Corps.

“The past year has reinforced the reality that new challenges will always be around the corner for colleges and universities,” cofounder and CEO Drew Magliozzi said in a statement. “Partnering in close collaboration with schools around the country, we’re building an empathy engine for higher education that will enable institutions and their students to navigate even the biggest and most unexpected obstacles.”

Rethink managing partner Matt Greenfield added: “AdmitHub’s technology and approach exemplify the thoughtful application of AI to solve the most pressing challenges in education. Even amidst the turmoil of the past year, artificial intelligence has played a transformative role in institutions’ efforts to communicate quickly and effectively in ways that improve access and retention at scale.”

ECMC Group’s Education Impact Fund and Kresge Foundation’s impact investment fund also joined AdmitHub’s series B. It brings the company’s total raised to over $21 million following a $7.5 million series A raise last January.

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