How to prevent “summer melt” for your high school graduate? Give ’em a nudge!

Many of you know I’m currently a mom of a high school senior. My “baby” will graduate in two weeks and head off to college in the fall. A few months ago, our high school sent out a notice about a program called Summer Nudging. It is sponsored by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education designed to help college-bound students stay on track through weekly text reminders about important college to-do’s and deadlines. These “nudges” focus on items such as financial aid, placement exams, transcripts, orientation and class registration, housing and transportation.Untitled design-3I was intrigued. As a mom, I often have to “nudge” my children to remind them of a commitment or deadline. How nice would it be to have someone else keep them (and us) on track for these critical components of the high school-to-college transition?

I recently reached out to Kat Klima, Summer Nudging program manager, to ask if she’d be willing to share a little more about what Summer Nudging is and how it works. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions about this free resource for students and their parents. Read on to meet Kat and learn more about Summer Nudging!

KR: Hi Kat! Can you tell us a little about the phenomenon of summer melt and how it inspired the Summer Nudging program?

KK: Certainly. It all begins with a statistic. Every year, 1 in 5 college bound students fail to matriculate in the fall. This phenomenon is known as “summer melt.” Dr. Benjamin Castleman and Dr. Lindsay C. Page were graduate students at Harvard studying this and more importantly, ways to combat it. They found that a text message campaign substantially increased rates of matriculation. Their abstract found its way into my former colleague, Jen Fox’s, email and she started a pilot program here in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2013. We have been doing it every summer since.

KR: How exactly does it help students stay on track? What kind of messages to students receive?

KK: It helps students stay on track using the behavioral science of “nudging.” The foundational research for this technique comes from Richard H. Thaler’s acclaimed book, Nudge. It’s a gentle reminder for students that is delivered right to their phone, which more often than not, is right in their hands. Students are sent messages regarding housing, choosing a college and the financial aid process.

KR: How many students are currently participating in this program?

KK: Currently, we are just under 700 students. Last year, we have close 1,600 participate. We also are partnering with Metropolitan State University, Bemidji State University and Minneapolis and Technical College. These partnerships signify that I have written specific messages for each institution once the student in question has confirmed their enrollment into the college. Students who are not attending one of the aforementioned schools, will receive a more generic message.

KR: This season of life can be stressful for parents, too. Can parents sign up for nudges?

KK: Yes, absolutely! I’ve written messages specifically for parents and counselors that coincide with the messages students receive. It’s like they’re getting double-nudged!

KR: I know you’re responsible for Summer Nudging in Minnesota. I’m curious, is it available in any other states?

KK: I know for sure that Massachuttes, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are actively nudging their students in efforts to reduce summer melt. Many of the private colleges around the nation have their own nudging techniques as well.Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 3.08.52 PM

KR: I mentioned earlier that this is a FREE resource. Are there any hidden costs or charges for students or parents who sign up?

KK: Great question—standard messaging rates apply to receive our messages. However, there is no cost to sign up!

KR: How exactly do students and parent sigh up for Summer Nudging?

KK: Please text ‘College’ to 651-243-9980 and you will start to receive messages. They are typically sent out on Tuesdays around 3:30 p.m.

Click HERE to learn more about Summer Nudging.

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