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Colt is Here to Help

August 15, 2023

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- “Hi, my name is Colt. I am here to help …” Visitors to selected sections of the SUNY Orange website now have an “assistant” to aid their navigation of the site and to allow them to more quickly and efficiently access information.

In the first of a two-phase process, the College recently unveiled an online chatbot to improve its website’s interactive experience for prospective students and their family members, as well as current students. “Colt”, named after the mascot for the SUNY Orange athletics teams, can reference a database of thousands of answers to questions visitors may have on a variety of topics while providing direct links to content hosted on the College website.

Presently, “Colt” is accessible on the admissions, financial aid, student accounts, registrar, wellness center, and information technology services pages. He can present answers in English, Spanish, simplified Chinese or Vietnamese.

“The implementation of a chatbot enhances our ability to interact with prospective students immediately by providing them with relevant, accurate answers to their specific questions,” said Maynard Schmidt, director of admissions and student recruitment, who led the College’s implementation of the chatbot. “Eventually, we’ll expand access across our entire site, will broaden the number of departments that have answers in the database and will implement the live chat functionality available in the software.”

Schmidt added that the expectation is that “Colt” can direct site visitors to the resources they need, eliminating their need to call or email the College and allow staff more time for those students who have the very complex questions. The software also has an AI (artificial intelligence) component that will analyze the questions and help modify answers to be more helpful and informative. Phase two of the project will also include integrating “Colt” into the College’s student data management system so he can provide current and prospective students with a secure (login required) connection to their College-related information.

Supported by one-time supplemental funding from the State University of New York earlier this fiscal year, the College has licensed the chatbot software through Ocelot (formerly FATV), a company that has provided Financial Aid TV video assets for the SUNY Orange website for the past decade.

For information on SUNY Orange’s academic and workforce training programming, or to apply, visit www.sunyorange.edu/getstarted or call the Admissions Office at (845) 341-4030.