A Review of the Top Chatbot Tools for Higher Education in 2024

Posted By Matthew Fall on Nov 11, 2020 8:21:13 AM

Read Time: 10 Minutes

As the educational journey becomes more intricate, the demand for a seamless and frictionless experience for students has never been more pronounced.

Gone are the days when merely offering educational resources in the form of viewbooks, videos, guides, or infographics would suffice to guide potential learners through their journey. Information is now expected at the tip of one's fingers and institutions must go beyond the conventional to meet the heightened expectations of modern students.

Enter chatbots virtual assistants that are tailor-made to bridge the gap between prospective students and the information they seek, providing quick, effortless, and personalized assistance. They function as a "one-stop-shop" for an array of student queries, spanning from admissions and student affairs to recruitment, career services, and even test preparation.

In this review, we explore top chatbot tools for higher education, including BoltBot, Ocelot,, GeckoEngage, and Hubspot.  Take a look at our overview and then download your copy of the AI Chatbot Vendor Evaluation Checklist to find the best solution for your institution's needs.

A quick overview of chat tools for higher ed


Element451, the leading AI-powered student engagement platform for higher ed, includes a powerful omnichannel chatbot called BoltBot. BoltBot is trained to reply like a real staff member, with deep knowledge of your institution and the student it is talking to. It also has powerful "skills" so people can create appointments, sign up for events, and more, all from within the chatbot itself.

BoltBotScreenshot is an AI-powered enterprise chatbot which features human-supervised natural language processing technology and an algorithm built on a massive library of a school’s data. bots can be translated to speak over 105 languages.

Pro tip: Learn more about how Artificial Intelligence is used in a chatbot.



GeckoEngage features a channel agnostic chatbot, meaning that just one bot can handle simultaneous conversations over Facebook Messenger, text message, or live chat. GeckoEngage bots are built with intelligent question banks. You add questions, keywords, and phrases that you predict prospective students will ask and then provide the answers. The more questions, keywords, and phrases you add, the more confident the bot becomes in identifying the correct responses.


HubSpot’s chatbot tool features several out-of-the-box bots, including a book-a-meetings bot, a live chat bot, and a lead qualifying bot (other options exist depending on your HubSpot package). Drag and drop chatflow building blocks allow marketers to create custom logic if/then branching, pose questions with pre-built answers, and create chatflows that funnel users to content.

How does each chatbot tool stack up for student recruitment?

Now, let’s dive into how each chat tool stacks up in three different areas: implementation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and integration with other programs.

Chatbot Implementation


BoltBot is designed to be straightforward and efficient to implement. It can be set up and operational within a single day using a self-service process, making it the fastest AI chatbot to implement in higher ed. Users can upload unlimited web pages and documents to BoltBot’s Knowledge Base, training it on a school’‘s courses, catalog, campus life, and more. BoltBot can then intelligently answer student questions 24/7. features an enterprise-level chatbot. While the company says it can get your chatbot up in as little as 3 weeks, it requires coordination with several different departments and teams within an educational institution. From student recruitment to the bursar, registrar, library, IT, and even student services, an enormous amount of coordination must take place to realize the full value of this tool. Doing so allows any website visitor (prospective student, student, parent, faculty) to find answers to their questions on any page of your school’s website. Once you do have everyone on board, the bot can be implemented across pages with one line of HTML code. With each new interaction, this bot (human-supervised) will continuously learn and improve on the answers it provides to difficult, complex questions.


GeckoEngage claims it can help you get a chatbot live in just 1 week. We do suggest you build out numerous question/query banks and answers, and train the bot over the course of several test runs before deploying it live on your school’s website. When it is ready, copy a paste of a line of code onto the pages you want your chatbot to appear on.

Pro-tip: Watch how to build a bot on GeckoEngage in just 30 minutes (start at minute 18:05).


A HubSpot chatbot can be implemented on any of your school’s pages that have the HubSpot tracking code present. With HubSpot, you can easily pick and choose certain pages (and exclude others) to include the chatbot. You can even prevent the chatbot from showing to visitors that come to your website from certain sources, that are a part of certain lists, or that clicked a certain call-to-action on a previous page.

Chatbot Maintenance


BoltBot does not automatically index your website, but the Element451 Knowledge Base makes it super easy to keep the information in BoltBot current. BoltBot also learns new skills continually via Element451 software upgrades.’s technology indexes your school’s entire website on a daily basis to search for new information, updated information, and recently removed information. This ensures that the answers provided by the chatbot are updated regularly and accurately (and reduces the time required to update the chatbot). Answers and responses provided by the chatbot are generated in large part by the content that already exists on your school’s website.


GeckoEngage features a “train” option for its chatbots. For all of the questions that the bot does not feel fit to answer, you can go through each question/query and train the bot to answer it a certain way next time around. Still, as events, resources, and staff change, you will need to manually update questions/answers in your chatbot.


HubSpot chatbots will need to be manually updated as information, events, program requirements, financial aid, etc, change. 

HubSpot, GeckoEngage, and Mongoose chatbots do not index your website to find new information.

Troubleshooting: When a Chatbot Gets Stumped


Chatbots for enrollment aren’t meant to replace a live human. Even the most intelligent, AI-powered, seemingly bullet-proof chatbots run into questions they can’t answer. 


BoltBot lives side-by-side with your team. The handoff to a staff member is immediate, seamless, and in the context of the same conversation. A shared inbox ensures students always receive timely assistance, whether from the AI bot or a live agent. 

When the bot gets stumped, you can have the user submit a ticket which can integrate into your school's ticketing systems, or you can route the conversation to a live agent.


GeckoEngage’s bot can be trained to know when to hand off the conversation to a live human. Using GeckoEngage’s question bank, you can also automatically route certain questions to a live human.


HubSpot’s chatbot can hand conversations off to live humans that are active in the account. Otherwise, the user can leave a custom message,  which the bot will route to a particular individual for further follow up.

To our knowledge, all four tools feature a variation of a conversation inbox; a command center that provides visibility into ongoing conversations and ones that require follow up, and the ability to jump into a live-chat conversation at any time.

Chatbot Integration with CRMs


As a part of Element451, BoltBot is deeply integrated with the entire Element451 CRM suite. If using BoltBot as a standalone chatbot you can rely on the Element451 tools as your primary CRM, or you can integrate with another CRM such as Slate or Salesforce, along with most common higher ed software tools. integrates with Salesforce, Ellucian, Zendesk, HubSpot, Slate, TargetX, Oracle, SAP, Hobsons, and more. Custom integrations could allow chatbot to reference and relay a user’s missing application materials from Salesforce. Conversations can also be continued over SMS text messaging.


GeckoEngae integrates with well-known higher education CRMs like Slate, Salesforce, Ellucian, Campus Management, and Tribal. From campus tours to open houses and information sessions, GeckoEngage is a great tool for capturing event registrants and syncing that information to your school’s CRM. 


HubSpot features its own CRM tool. It’s chatbot tool can automatically sync saved user responses to the HubSpot CRM and even skip over chatflow questions if a user’s information is already known in the CRM. The chatbot can reference other common HubSpot tools, like lists, workflows, and meetings links (integrated with Google Calendar or Office 365). If you’re a school currently on HubSpot, the chatbot tool is a slam dunk (and comes free in most cases). While the chatbot tool does not directly integrate with other CRMs, you can create custom integrations between HubSpot’s CRM can be with just about any other higher education customer relationship management software.

What is the Best Chatbot Tool for Higher Ed?

Although the best chatbot for your institution depends on your budget, goals, and other department initiatives, BoltBot stands out as the market leader due to its reasonable, transparent pricing, full AI capabilities, and being trained specifically for higher education. For the incredible AI abilities of a tool like, it is not specifically set up for higher education and requires a level of school-wide coordination that might take years to achieve. HubSpot’s chatbot tool, while a no-brainer for schools currently using HubSpot’s CMS and CRM, is not an AI chatbot and is best used for student recruitment purposes.

GeckoEngage is a great option for combining multiple chat and conversation tools into one convenient inbox for your team to manage. On the other hand, their chatbot is built differently, as it requires you to predict the questions users will ask. This may make it more difficult to create clear chatflow paths for prospective students to find content but more flexible to handle difficult, complex questions. 

No matter your needs, there's a chatbot out there for every institution. Download your copy of the AI Chatbot Vendor Evaluation Checklist to ensure that your decisions are grounded in a comprehensive understanding of how well each solution aligns with your institution’s specific needs, objectives, and long-term strategic goals.

Have you used one of these chat tools for higher ed before? We’d love to hear your feedback and which one you think is the best chatbot tool! Leave a review on Enrollify Chatter to help the higher education community and other enrollment marketers like you.

Topics: Chat & Texting, 0 Stars, 0 Reviews

Matthew Fall

Written by Matthew Fall

Matthew is the Director of Marketing Technology at Direct Development — an enrollment marketing technology agency that helps undergraduate and graduate institutions recruit students. He enjoys being a problem solver for clients, using his deep understanding of marketing automation technologies to help higher education institutions achieve greater efficiencies and success. In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, hiking, skiing, and learning web development.

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