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Colleges turn to texting to connect with students


Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's rare to see a high school or college student without a smartphone in hand. Because of the ubiquitous nature of these mobile devices, colleges are finding ways to tap into this technology to stay connected to incoming freshmen.

Education Week reported that texting as a means of connecting students with higher education is growing in popularity. In West Virginia, for example, a pilot program allows students to receive updates about college financial aid deadlines, orientation, registration and more.

"We wanted to connect students with college support staff earlier," Jessica A. Kennedy, the assistant director of communications at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, told Education Week. "When students transition from high school to college, they don't have anyone to reach out to in the summer. They are scrambling to build new support systems and want more."

Although most of these efforts are centered on students making the move to college life, the messages don't stop once they hit campus. Freshmen receive frequent texts, which help them to build a long-term relationship with counselors and advisors.

Researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Pittsburgh found that texting can enhance the college experience for low-income high school graduates. According to the study, these messages can be a cost-effective way to offer students encouragement and guidance and potentially even improve academic performance. As more states adopt these policies, it is possible that incoming students will be better prepared for college and more likely to experience success.

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