Signal Vine Blog: Text Me Back

Text Your Way to College (New York Times Recap)

Posted by Paige Altieri on January 13, 2017

A recent op-ed by David L. Kirp published in The New York Times examines how texting programs can nudge students towards better educational choices. Kirp focuses particularly on the use of texting interventions to reduce summer melt and to encourage students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to apply for college. 

This op-ed article cites several programs that use Signal Vine's text messaging platform to communicate with students. Here are two use cases mentioned where texting is used to improve student outcomes:

  • Increasing matriculation rates at a low cost. 
    • In Kirp's words, "in a pilot study that enlisted nearly 5,000 students, 72 percent of low-income students who received the message followed through and enrolled in college, compared with 66.4 percent who didn’t get this information. The cost? Less than $7 a student." 
  • Improving persistence. 
    • In Kirp's words, "in another study, freshmen who received text reminders to submit their financial aid forms and keep up their grades to remain eligible for aid were 20 percent more likely to stay in college than those who didn’t get these nudges."


Kirk notes the effectiveness of Dr. Ben Castleman's work with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Common Application. These organizations now text with over half a million students to provide information about financial choices and options for better college access.

Another impactful program he mentions is Michelle Obama's UP NEXT initiative, which walks students through the college-going process and provides reminders about FAFSA filing, exam prep and more.

Kirp ends the article by noting that texting is an incredibly low-cost, but effective, way to improve student outcomes. "Colleges and universities need to join forces to encourage poor, high-achieving students to attend top-flight schools and nudge accepted students to enroll. Doing the right thing for students has never been so cheap." 

Read the full article here!

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