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How a Texting Program can Prevent College Dropouts

Thursday, November 16, 2017

10 Tips to Help High Schools Adopt Proven Intervention for Increasing College Enrollment Summer Melt Report Cover

As many as 40% of high school graduates who’ve been accepted to college fail to show up for classes in the fall. Researchers call this “summer melt,” a phenomenon that acutely affects students from low-income families, first-generation students, and students of color.

Why does this happen? School counselors were critical in helping these students navigate the FAFSA and admission process, but their support “melts” away after graduation. Students are suddenly on their own, just when they need to finalize their financial aid packages, register for orientation, confirm campus housing, and more.

The good news is that a simple intervention—a handful of brief text messages from counselors about completing critical final steps—has been shown to improve the odds that students will begin college in the fall.

To learn what it takes for high schools to design and administer a summer melt texting program, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates awarded a combined $99,000 to three Wisconsin school districts in 2015: School District of Janesville, Madison Metropolitan School District and Stevens Point Area Public School District.

Great Lakes also commissioned Dr. Ben Castleman—an assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia and a leading scholar on the issue—to provide technical assistance to the school districts and develop tips based on feedback from staff who participated. Castleman’s insight is the backbone of Great Lakes’ new report, which will be a resource for high school administrators across the country seeking to implement their own texting programs.

To read the report, visit the Summer Melt Texting Initiative website.