Some high school students in West Virginia could soon get extra assistance in applying for college and adjusting to college life via text-message.
“This is the method that our young people are communicating and it’s a great resource and a way to reach students,” said Adam Green, HEPC’s Senior Director of Student Success and P-20 Initiatives.
The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) is developing a three-year pilot project that utilizes text-messaging to promote college access and support student success within their freshman year.
“We’ll work with them their senior year, follow them through their summer before they enroll in post-secondary education and if they enroll in one of our four key initial partners, then they will continue to receive texting during their freshman year of college,” said Green.
The pilot project currently involves four colleges and universities and 14 feeder high schools currently served by the West Virginia GEAR UP program.
Students that attend the 14 qualifying schools or apply to the four qualifying institutions in the state, will be able to sign up to receive these text-messages during their senior year in high school when they fill out college applications or through other communication via an opt-in form field. Sign up is free and completely voluntary and students can cancel the texts at any time.
The students will provide their mobile phone number which will then be used by both CFWV and GEAR UP staff to send students a series of personalized text messages providing them with information on preparing for college. An example would be for completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
“We will use this platform to trigger reminders to not only complete your FAFSA, but allow for that student to then communicate back to us if they need assistance in completing their FAFSA in which we can then put them in touch with an expert to help them navigate the process,” said Green.
In late spring of their senior year, students will be asked, via text, to respond with the name of the institution they plan to attend. Then in the summer after a students’ senior year, their number will be transferred to one of the four participating institutions to then be able to contact their students directly.
Throughout the students’ freshman year the institutions can send texts to connect them with campus-based programs, such as free tutoring, academic counseling, or financial assistance.
“So it’s really connecting them to the campus once they enroll because we know that engagement component is so vital to them persisting,” said Green.
The process of collecting mobile phone numbers from students is already underway with the goal of starting in spring with the class of 2014. Green said they believe the Mountain State is the perfect place to start this project.
“We know with many of our young people the primary means of pure access is held in their hand, particularly in rural places and we thought well lets try this in rural West Virginia and if it works this is obviously something that would benefit all of us for a brighter future,” he said.
To see a full list of all the participating high schools and institutions or to learn more about the pilot project, visit http://www.cfwvconnect.com/text-messaging-intervention