As part of our ongoing effort to share stories of text success, we recently spoke with another partner organization to learn more about the highs and lows of communicating with students. This week, we talked about text with Sagar Desai of Commit2Dallas. Through text messaging, Sagar and the Commit2Dallas team have been better able to connect students with the counselors and resources they need to successfully enroll in college after graduating from high school.
SV: What is Commit2Dallas?
SD: The Commit! Partnership aims to improve student achievement from cradle to career in Dallas County through a cross-sector partnership of Colleges, K-12 School Districts, Foundations, Corporations, and Civic leaders that uses data and collaboration to create alignment between stakeholders.
SV: How as an organization do you measure a student’s success?
SD: Our ultimate goal is entry into the workforce. To achieve that goal, community leaders have created eleven indicators that start with Pre-K enrollment all the way to college completion. For this specific project, our success is measured by an increase in college enrollment after graduating from high school.
SV: What have been some of the greatest challenges to maintaining communication with students?
SD: Students don’t respond to e-mails and rarely take the time to come by the counselor’s office, except for desperate circumstances. Phone becomes an effective form of communication, except that students often change their mobile numbers.
SV: What are your goals for improving communication with students?
SD: We are providing timely information to students to help them in their college journey. Students are more proactively reaching out to counselors and asking questions as challenges arise .
SV: How has texting impacted the relationship between partner schools and students?
SD: Texting has created a medium to better connect schools and colleges to students, especially during the summer months when schools are closed and counselors are “off-contract.” Through texting, students were able to connect with counselors, even though the schools were closed. Through our summer melt intervention, we got valuable feedback from students. For example, we learned from text messaging that students needed to access their transcripts during the summer. However, school offices were not open at convenient times. In response, the district is looking to find ways to provide students' access to transcripts.
SV: What has been the student response to communicating via text?
SD: Students love it! They find it easier to communicate with counselors on an as-needed basis. Text also forces brevity, as opposed to e-mail. Students appreciate targeted and brief conversations, as opposed to long e-mails.
SV: How do you measure student engagement?
SD: We measure how many texts students respond to, and what types of questions they ask.
SV: Do you see a future for using texting to enhance the engagement of community partners?
SD: Definitely. Districts have enjoyed the effort and we have heard from many counselors that they have gotten value.
SV: What is the most rewarding part about working for Commit2Dallas?
SD: We get the opportunity to work across districts and colleges and better understand the whole system. It’s incredible to work with leadership across systems and develop integrated solutions that improve student success.
SV: Can you think of a memorable interaction with a student that you have seen through the platform?
SD: Students finalized financial aid applications and scheduled campus visits. The most exciting interactions were watching an advisor uncover a missing document to help a student get back on track to enrolling in college.
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