CHARLESTON, W.Va. — To say a text-messaging program between high school students and four colleges and universities in West Virginia is working would be an understatement.
The College Foundation of West Virginia (CFWV) began a three-year pilot project in January that utilizes text-messaging to promote college access and support student success for a high school senior through his or her freshmen year.
West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Communications Manager Jessica Kennedy said the response has been outstanding with 57 percent of the seniors in the 14 pilot high schools signing up for the program and many of them texting back and forth with counselors at the colleges and universities involved in the project. Kennedy said the questions vary.
“‘Can I complete by FAFSA? How can I decide on a major? Where do I start in that process?'” Kennedy said. “Then some technical questions.”
The original plan did not involve the college counselors as early in the process but Kennedy quickly found out the high school students had lots of questions.
“I did have one night where I had about 350 (texts) all at once,” she said. “That was shocking and surprising but really wonderful too.”
There is currently no time line when the program may go statewide but Kennedy said there are plans to add at least one new college next fall and a few high schools.
She said the most benefit thus far has been the relationship building between college counselors and high school students.
“Our counselors at our four partner institutions are really excited about that opportunity,” Kennedy said.
The partner institutions are Bluefield State College, Concord University, Marshall University and Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.
The 14 high schools include:
Clay County High School
Lincoln County High School
Mingo Central Comprehensive High School
Mount View High School
River View High School
Roane County High School
Scott High School
Sherman High School
Summers County High School
Tug Valley High School
Webster County High School
Westside High School
Wirt County High School
Wyoming County East High School