Minnesota Office of Higher Education: Reducing Summer Melt
The Minnesota Office of Higher Education uses Signal Vine’s text messaging platform to reduce the rate of summer melt among all students in Minnesota. MOHE’s Summer Nudging program texts over 4,700 college-bound students to keep them on track for college enrollment in the fall.
All high school graduates in Minnesota are eligible to sign up and the program particularly works to support first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color.
Administrators of the program initially found inspiration in the landmark book on Summer Nudging, Summer Melt: Supporting Low-Income Students Through the Transition to College. They used information from the book to design a series of ten text messages to be sent from one iPhone to 240 students. They quickly found that sending the text messages from a cellphone was not a scalable way to implement the Summer Nudging program. Low engagement rates encouraged program administrators to look for a new texting solution, which they found in Signal Vine.
Opting In and Data Collection
The Summer Nudging program communicates with Minnesota high school graduates across the state. High school and college counselors encourage students to sign up for the program, and information (including a music video promoting the program!) is publicly available on the OHE website. The program’s phone number is listed on the website so that students can opt in to the texting program on their own.
Today, the program gets most of its student contact information from the University of Minnesota, which collects students’ consent to receive text messages. Students may also provide their contact information directly when they apply to a Summer Nudging program.
Parents, guardians, and counselors are encouraged to sign up for text messages to stay involved in the college-going process.
Message Content and Timing
The content of Summer Nudging’s text messages aims to increase first-year enrollment and matriculation. Text message content is informed by the research in the Summer Melt book and is customized to each student.
Text message nudges are sent from January to December. Messages help with college milestones like placement exams, financial aid, orientation, housing, and first-semester registration. Students are welcome to text back if they need help or have questions about specific topics related to the college-going process.
Students are also connected through the Summer Nudging program to on-campus resources at their future colleges. College staff are able to offer personal and relevant assistance to students via text, which helps build student-staff relationships at the college early on.
One full-time staff member manages the Summer Nudging text messaging program. Staff from the Office of Higher Education, University of Minnesota, Metropolitan State University, and local high schools regularly monitor their message inboxes on Signal Vine’s platform to respond to incoming student messages and provide support.
The Summer Nudging program began with 240 students and now reaches more than 4,800 students at 300 high schools in Minnesota. More than 70% of students in the texting program are engaged and responsive. Texting through Signal Vine’s platform has been a much more effective way to scale communications than the program’s original texting tool.
Staff report seeing the highest engagement and responses from text nudges about financial aid. For example, students were more likely to respond with questions when messages were about completing the FAFSA, choosing a loan vendor, and searching for scholarships.
Signal Vine reinforces what we already knew: texting students is the most effective way to reach them.
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