The New York Times Says Text Messages Can Help Underprivileged Students Enroll in College

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Upland Admin

A college education is increasingly important. According to Pew, college graduates earn more, are 3x less likely to be unemployed, and are dramatically less likely to live in poverty. Yet many lower-income students never make it to college – even after they’ve been accepted.

The New York Times reports that every year, 200,000 students who are accepted to college don’t enroll. That’s as high as 40% of the graduates in some urban districts.

One problem is that many students simply aren’t aware of the steps they need to take to enroll. “Unlike their well-off peers, cosseted by counselors and parents … they are understandably daunted by navigating the passage between high school and college — completing financial aid forms, submitting grades, picking courses and signing up for orientation.”

“Using texts is a smart move This is how teenagers communicate.” – The New York Times

But text messages are helping to close the gap. A customized text messaging campaign can send deadline reminders and direct students to the counseling they need. Indeed, in a recent pilot study of 5,000 students, 72% of low-income students who received text messages enrolled in college. That was a 6% increase over those who didn’t receive the messages. The costs were less than $7 a day.

According to the Times,

Using texts is a smart move. This is how teenagers communicate — nearly two-thirds of them send texts daily, far more than talk on their phones or rely on email. “Hi, Alex!” a typical text might say. “Have you chosen your courses yet? Deadline is 8/15. Need to register? Need help? Text back to talk w/ an adviser.”

A similar campaign that sent financial aid reminders to freshmen kept 20% more students in school into their sophomore year.

By sending simple reminders, text messages can help steer students towards the right school, starting them on a road towards their full potential. As we’ve seen with health care enrollment, the simplicity of text messages can help clarify even the most complicated systems.

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