‘Nudging’ Students to College Matriculation: How One School Network Is Using Text Messages to Combat Summer Melt and Ensure Alumni Make It To Their First Day on Campus

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Text messages courtesy of KIPP

“Nudging” toward success

Based on Nudge Theory — developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler — schools, like KIPP, are starting to use small, inexpensive interventions called “nudges” to help guide a student’s summer behavior.

‘The victims of summer melt are students that wanted to go to college’

KIPP’s texting pilot is unlike other past nudge campaigns in part due to its sheer breadth. During the 18-month pilot, KIPP will send approximately two nudge texts per week to participating alumni in eight different regions including Washington D.C, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Jersey, Chicago, Houston and Dallas. Nearly 950 students have opted in to the campaign since it launched in early June, and KIPP officials are expecting even more to sign on throughout the summer.

The work doesn’t end there

The KIPP Through College team is thinking long-term about how to support students who are most vulnerable to summer melt. Students who have second thoughts about their enrollment plans may need more counseling than the bot can provide. That’s why, in the fall, KIPP will be sending out a survey to two-year community college students to find out if they are fully enrolled or having any feelings of doubt.

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