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Great Lakes Shares Lessons Learned from Summer Melt Texting Initiative

10 Tips to Help High Schools Launch Proven Intervention for Increasing College Enrollment

—A new report from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates outlines how high schools can initiate texting programs to continue supporting college-bound students during the summer after graduation. Based on lessons learned from Great Lakes' 2015–2016 Summer Melt Texting Initiative, this resource includes 10 tips for high school administrators to design and run a program that will help more students who've been accepted to college actually get there.

"Summer melt" is a phenomenon affecting as many as 40% of college-bound high school graduates from underserved communities. Despite having an acceptance letter in hand, these students often fail to show up for classes in the fall. For students from low-income households, students of color and first-generation students, school counselors often played a key role in guiding them through the unfamiliar world of admissions and financial aid. But this help and encouragement melts away after graduation, and prospective college freshmen are suddenly on their own—just as they reach the final hurdles on the path to college.

Multiple studies have shown that well-timed text messages from counselors informing college-bound students about the steps they must take to successfully transition from high school to college can help them overcome summer melt. These "nudges" include links for immediate action and invitations to text a counselor for personalized assistance.

To learn what it takes for school districts to adopt this proven practice, Great Lakes awarded grants totaling $99,000 to three Wisconsin school districts to help them develop and launch summer melt texting programs in 2015. The School District of Janesville, Madison Metropolitan School District and Stevens Point Area Public School District were selected to represent a broad mix of students across urban, suburban and rural areas.

Great Lakes also commissioned a leading scholar on the issue of summer melt to research what goes into administering a texting program. Dr. Ben Castleman—an assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia, founder and director of the Nudge4 Solutions Lab, and author of "The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messaging and Other Behavioral Strategies Can Improve Education"—provided technical assistance to the three districts and developed tips for implementing a program based on feedback from staff who participated. Castleman's insight is the backbone of Great Lakes' new report.

"We're pleased to share knowledge with school districts seeking an affordable and effective intervention to decrease summer melt," said Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "We hope this effort will inspire other districts across the country to start their own texting programs and boost student success."

To read the 2015–2016 Summer Melt Texting Initiative report, visit community.mygreatlakes.org.


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