Please join us on Monday, December 16 at 10:00 a.m. in 232M Baker Hall for this talk given by Lindsay Page, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education.
Title: Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text Messages and Peer Mentor Outreach Increase College Going Among Low-Income High School Graduates?
Abstract: Despite decades of policy intervention to increase college entry among low-income students, substantial disparities in college participation by family income persist. Policymakers have largely overlooked the summer after high school as an important time period in students’ transition to college, yet recent research documents summer attrition rates ranging from 10 – 40 percent among students who had been accepted to college and declared an intention to enroll in college as of high school graduation. Encouragingly, several experimental interventions demonstrate that students’ postsecondary plans are quite responsive to additional outreach during the summer months. Questions nonetheless remain about how to maximize the impact and cost-effectiveness of summer support. Text messaging and peer mentor outreach programs are two promising approaches both to inform students of college-related summer tasks and to connect them to professional support when they need help. In this paper, we report on two randomized trials to investigate the role of technology and peer mentor outreach in mitigating summer attrition and helping students enroll and succeed in college. We find that an automated and personalized text messaging campaign to remind students of required pre-matriculation tasks substantially increased college enrollment among students who had less access to college planning supports. A peer mentor intervention increased four-year college enrollment. At a cost of $7 per participant for the text message campaign and $80 per participant for the peer mentor campaign, both strategies—and particularly the text outreach—are promising and cost-effective approaches to increase college entry among populations traditionally underrepresented in higher education. This is joint work with Benjamin Castleman (University of Virginia).