‘Nudging’ Students to College Matriculation

ByLauren Costantino
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‘Nudging’ Students to College Matriculation: How One School Network Is Using Text Messages to Combat Summer Melt and Ensure Alumni Make It to Their First Day on Campus

While cell phones in the classroom can detract from student learning, one school program is taking advantage of the fact that a generation of digital natives can’t stay off their phones.

KIPP Public Charter Schools, a national charter school network of more than 200 schools, rolled out the National Nudge Texting Pilot this summer. The program seeks to combat a national phenomenon known as “summer melt,” in which thousands of college-accepted teens fall off the map in the summer months after high school graduation and ultimately never matriculate at college. Summer melt is not to be confused with “summer slide.”

The summer campaign will send out automated “nudges” in the form of text messages — twice a week — to help KIPP’s ever growing number of students keep track of the many tasks — like completing housing applications and paying student activity fees — that they’re required to complete before getting to campus in the fall. About 10 percent of KIPP’s graduates “melt away” before making it to the colleges in which they’re enrolled.

“We don’t want to overburden our students with a ton of messages,” said Nadila Yusuf, senior manager of college persistence for KIPP Through College. “We want to pick the most critical messages so that we actually make an impact.”

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