The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (AKA the Commission) develops and oversees a public policy agenda for West Virginia’s four-year colleges and universities. The Commission works closely with institutions statewide to help them accomplish their respective missions.
West Virginia's colleges and universities struggled to connect with students who live in the state’s most rural areas, as many lack internet connections at home.
However, they often use their cellphones wherever they have the connectivity to do so. As such, staff sought to find a text messaging platform that would be engaging for students and easy for staff to manage.
Implementing Signal Vine
In 2014, CFWV staff worked with Signal Vine to develop a pilot texting project focusing on the state’s GEAR UP population.
The results of this pilot project proved that texting students worked. As a result, CFWV staff decided to scale the initiative statewide, offering guidance via text message to all college-bound students. Some messages serve as general reminders of key deadlines, while others simply serve as check-ins to make sure that students’ college questions are answered.
Now, CFWV staff partner with college representatives from 10 of the state’s public two- and four-year colleges and universities to provide college-specific advising via text message. Institutional staff can use the Signal Vine platform to send out reminders and follow up with students to ensure they are on the right track to enrolling in and persisting through the first year of college.
The results prove that texting is a successful form of outreach for rural students in West Virginia. Rural students who opt-in to receive text messages are nearly 8 percentage points more likely than their peers to persist through their first year of college. Students who come from non-rural areas are nearly 7 percentage points more likely to persist.
The class of 2019 experienced an engagement rate of 53.1%, meaning that out of all the students texted in this campaign, more than half responded to at least one text message.
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