Officials running a program that relies on connecting with students in rural areas have found that texting is the solution to their communication barriers.
Writing for the Hechinger Report, Nichole Dobo discusses what makes texting such a valuable tool to connect with students.
The Idaho PTECH program connects high school students in remote parts of the state with mentors who help students prepare for life out of high school. Texting is an important component of the program because it allows students to communicate with mentors in a simple, efficient manner.
A little nudge goes a long way toward helping students apply to college
The usefulness of texting for reaching students has been well documented. The Common Application texted 500,000 students a reminder to fill out the FAFSA in 2016, and in recent studies, researchers have found that text reminders can boost college acceptance and enrollment rates.
Dobo outlines several ways that texting has been useful to students in the PTECH program, whose methods can also be applied to college students.
Location doesn't matter when texting
Texting makes it easy to quickly connect with thousands of students, no matter where they reside. Such flexibility is particularly useful in non-urban areas where students may have access to fewer resources. Students require targeted messaging that will help them get the information they need, right away.
Text nudges boost applicant conversion rates
"In a state like Idaho, where rural students greatly outnumber those in urban centers, reaching students with the right message at the right time is part of a larger effort to prepare students for life after high school," Dobo writes.
Students are more comfortable texting
Students are already accustomed to texting as a means of communication, so conveying information about postsecondary plans through text message already fits into students' lifestyle.
Dave Jarrat, a vice president at InsideTrack, which provides personalized mentoring assistance, says students are sometimes more likely to open up via text than other communication platforms.
Don't confuse texting with coddling
"Technology has really helped with [student communication]," says Hayley Kimble, a PTECH mentor from InsideTrack. "Get on the phone and it's just one-word answers. But I can text back and forth with a student and they won't lose focus."
Texts can be personalized
Idaho PTECH uses text messaging to match students with the academic and social experiences they need to succeed in the careers of their choice, but texts can be personalized to align with institutional goals. And crafting the right content to include in a text is critical for influencing student behavior, Dobo says.
"It is not just the act of sending a message that matters," she writes. "The information in it—and the time of day it's sent—can make a difference" (Dobo, Hechinger Report, 11/23).
What you say in a text—and when you say it—matters
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