September 19, 2014

Texting

Students are becoming less likely to check their email, but their phone is always close by. Credit: Adam Fagen / Flickr Creative Commons

While students are often criticized for texting constantly, that impulse could actually have a big upside. Like landing them in college.
 
Turns out, some students who enroll never show up for freshman year. In educational circles, the phenomenon is called "summer melt" - where high school seniors graduate, make plans to head to campus in the fall, and then somehow lose momentum.
 
Cities like Boston have around a 20 percent melt rate and “in some cities like Fort Worth, Texas, the melt rate is over 40 percent," says Ben Castleman, assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia. He studied this problem with his research partner Lindsay C. Page, assistant professor of education at the University of Pittsburgh.

What a lot of these communities share are large populations of low-income, first generation students — the group much less likely to have the help of parents to remind them when payments are due.

And that’s where text messages come in.
 
Castleman and Page teamed up with uAspire, a non-profit that provides students with information and resources, to test a system where counselors send personalized text messages to students.
 
And for students who have grown up with a cell phone glued to their hand, it may be a perfect fit. In some cases, many of these students access the Internet solely from their phones.

The program is still new, but it has attracted some fans, like 18-year-old Abdias Jiminian, who will be attending Wentworth Institute of Technology this fall. He's the first in his family to go to college.
 
“The fact that you get a text message and everyone's so techie nowadays, is just perfect,” says Jiminian.

Turns out, students who get the messages are more likely to enroll in college and the program has plans to build on its success by reminding students about financial aid deadlines year round.

students, Education, texting, college, Kirk Carapezza

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