Low-Income College Students Depend on Smartphones. Why?

by Elizabeth Pierce | February 15, 2017
Low-Income College Students Depend on Smartphones. Why?

In this day and age, we take access to the internet for granted. Truthfully, internet access isn’t available to everyone. One reason is cost. After all, paying for a computer, internet service, and a phone adds up quickly. Owning a smartphone is a cost-effective choice for many because it combines internet service and telecommunication in one device. In fact, 19% of Americans depend on a smartphone for internet and have limited internet access elsewhere. How does this affect low-income college students?

Low-income college students are dependent on smartphones 

Students from low-income households are more likely to depend on a smartphone for internet access than other populations. Even with access to the internet on a smartphone, 30% of “smartphone-dependent” Americans use up all of their monthly data. Having limited smartphone data can cause students to ration their internet usage, and they ignore emails.

Luckily, texting is a powerful solution to little or no internet access. Text messages go through cellular service and don’t use smartphone data. In addition, text messages appear on the home screen of a smartphone and are not checked manually like emails. This is proven to be the best way to reach students, especially low-income students who are “smartphone-dependent.”

Use texting to make an impact on students' futures

Low-income students see bigger improvements than any other population when they can communicate with advisors through text messages. uAspire sent text messages to 2,200 low-income high school graduates preparing for college. Students who received the texts were 7.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in college compared to students who didn’t receive texts. Additionally, sending students reminders and communicating directly with a professional made the students feel more prepared for college. The texts reminded students to complete unfinished tasks and to start tasks they weren’t aware of. 

When students don’t have the resources to access and identify important college information by themselves, they need an extra nudge from a professional. Text messaging reaches students on their preferred device without wasting precious smartphone data. It’s a simple solution to a widespread problem.

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