Over four years, teachers and counselors work together to prepare students for college, from academics to applying to colleges to completing the FAFSA. But all that hard work can be undone in just three months over the summer when students must complete a handful of additional enrollment tasks without the aid of the counselors who helped them get that far. As a result, graduates with college acceptance letters in hand all too often fail to complete the final steps needed to start classes in the fall.
This phenomenon is known as “summer melt,” and it affects as many as 40% of college-bound high school graduates from underrepresented communities.
A new grant opportunity from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates can help ensure that a school district’s investment in its students pays off. Great Lakes is inviting 74 Wisconsin public school districts to join the Summer Melt Texting Initiative. Participating districts will adopt a turnkey program that has proven to reduce summer melt in districts around the country.
The approach is simple: Sending a series of short texts about steps students need to take over the summer—with links to encourage immediate action whenever possible and invitations to text back for more help—substantially increases the number of students who successfully enroll in the fall.
In 2015, Great Lakes wanted to learn what it takes to set up and run a summer texting program in Wisconsin. Dr. Ben Castleman of the University of Virginia, a national expert on strategies to mitigate summer melt, provided guidance to the School District of Janesville, Madison Metropolitan School District and Stevens Point Area Public School District. Great Lakes provided financial support for initial program costs as well as Dr. Castleman’s consultation and evaluation services.
This new grant opportunity allows Great Lakes to build on what was learned in Janesville, Madison and Stevens Point by helping school districts across the state establish summer texting programs. The districts that join the Summer Melt Texting Initiative will gain tools that will enable them to sustain the momentum they build with college-bound students and help nudge them over that summer hump.
Even school districts not participating in the Great Lakes initiative can learn how to launch an effective texting program. Download this report for 10 tips based on feedback from staff at the three Wisconsin districts that participated in the 2015-2016 Summer Melt Texting Initiative.
For more information, please contact Great Lakes Program Manager, Carolynn Lee at 608-504-6599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscriber Submission: Written by Melissa Gloudeman