Study shows text messaging counseling program working

Published: Dec. 6, 2017 at 9:42 PM EST
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A new study shows the text messaging service offered to high school seniors through the College Foundation of West Virginia has improved retention at some of the state’s colleges and universities.

The CFWV and West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission released the results of the study from a pair of University of Virginia researchers Wednesday.

The Txt 4 Success program, which began four years ago, has made it nearly 7 percent more likely that a student sticks with college through the first year by reminding them of certain deadlines for things like registration and financial aid.

“This number jumps to 7.6 percentage points among students from rural areas in the state,” according to the study.

Chelsea Goins, a junior at Concord University, told MetroNews Wednesday Txt 4 Success, which she signed up for while a senior at Princeton High School, helped her with the transition to college.

“It was telling me that I need to have my FAFSA filed by so-and-so date and it just really helped me out because that was not something I was used to–to know the deadlines,” Goins said.

Those text messages continued during her freshman year at Concord reminding Goins, a first generation college student, of important deadlines.

“In high school you can kind of get by with being a little late because everything was within your school and class, it was smaller. But in college you are held to the responsibility that adults are held to,” Goins said.

The University of Virginia study was conducted by Dr. Ben Castleman and Katharine Meyer. They examined students that took part in the program from 2013-2015.

“The transition from high school to college is difficult for almost all students as they arrive in a new location without the family and friends they’re accustomed to having nearby for support,” Meyer said in a news release from the HEPC. “Not only are students adjusting to a new community, they also need to keep on top of several financial aid and academic tasks without the assistance they may have had in high school from family members and counselors to manage. This study suggests that a few well-timed and focused messages can help students navigate the challenging first-year transition and encourage college persistence.”

Goins is busy. She’s a double major at Concord, works three jobs and is a cheerleader at the school. She said she never found the text messages annoying.

“No, not at all. It was pleasurable to receive them. I was always ready to read them,” she said. “It was kind of like getting a coupon text message to your favorite store–it was just like that. I was excited to see it because I knew I could be ahead.”

Schools that participate in the program include Concord University, Bluefield State College, Fairmont State University, Marshall University, Shepherd University, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, West Virginia Northern Community College and West Virginia State University.