News: College Access & Success

College Access Programs Are Increasing Matriculation With Signal Vine's Texting Platform

Monday, March 11, 2019  
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By guest blogger Paige Altieri, Digital Marketing Manager, Signal Vine

Those in the college access or higher education world know summer melt is not only a real and serious issue but an upsetting one. It’s upsetting that students choose not to attend college simply because they have a lack of resources, even if they are the most qualified students. It seems like a simple concept to grasp, but the college application process is anything but simple, especially when students do not have the support they need.

We knew there had to be a solution to this, that if students were able to access resources they needed to guide them through the college-going process, summer melt could be a thing of the past. A major hurdle is how administrators and counselors are communicating with students or missing them completely. Students are not reading emails (less than 6 percent of email is replied to) or picking up the phone, and we know they are definitely not tracking you down for in-person meetings.

Enter texting. Texting is the preferred method of communication for these students, more specifically Generation Z. In one survey, 73 percent of Gen Zers said texting is their primary activity on their mobile phones.

Of course, having each counselor or adviser texting individual students isn’t sustainable. That’s why Signal Vine built a software platform to help multiple groups of advisers personalize and scale their messages to thousands of students. Signal Vine’s primary differentiator is our Blended Messaging® approach, which allows users to automate messages and responses where it make senses, for example, with FAQs, while flagging responses that require a more individual approach. This way counselors and advisers can extend their reach, free up time from mundane activities, and focus on making a difference in students’ lives.

Signal Vine’s software was born out of Harvard University research conducted on reducing summer melt. Drs. Ben Castleman and Lindsay Page used Signal Vine to test the impact of text nudges on matriculation. Partnering with uAspireMastery Charter Schools, and the Dallas Independent School District, the team sent text nudges to high school students and their families in Dallas, Boston, and Philadelphia. The messages included reminders and information about enrollment, orientation, housing, and financial aid award letters. Students could text back to communicate directly with a college adviser.

Overall, the intervention helped more students enroll in and attend college directly after high school. The research showed an 11 percent increase in matriculation as a result of sending personalized text message nudges to students during the summer between high school and college.

Today, countless other college access organizations have used texting to improve student outcomes and ultimately lessen the summer melt blow. NCAN worked with Signal Vine to design a Summer Melt texting campaign for its members. The messages that make up the campaign have information about topics such as financial aid, tuition bills, class registration, and freshman orientation. Students can text back and connect with advisers for help in real time.

Sixteen organizations joined the inaugural 2015 Summer Melt campaign, with a total of 2,827 students served. Overall, the 2015 NCAN campaign saw an engagement rate of 75 percent and an average response rate of 64 percent.

NCAN will continue its summer melt texting initiative with its members and Signal Vine this summer. Learn more about the 2019 campaign, and register to join it here.

You can also read about other college access programs that have used texting to decrease summer melt, increase matriculation, and ultimately improve student outcomes.

(Photo by Manthan Gupta on Unsplash)