How to get high school grads to show up for college? Minn. tries nudging them with a text

People walk in front of Coffman Memorial Union.
People walk across the University of Minnesota green on Nov. 1, 2016, in Minneapolis.
Sam Harper for MPR News 2016

About one in five high school graduates who plan to go to college actually fail to show up for classes in the fall. This phenomenon is called "summer melt" and it's even more common among low-income students — about 40 percent drop out of college before it even begins.

Researchers have found they can help "nudge" students along the path to college through text messaging.

In peer-reviewed studies, researchers have found 70 percent of students who receive messages enroll in college in the fall compared to 63 percent who don't receive messages. The Minnesota Department of Higher Education runs a program here based on that research.

Students can sign up to text with a real person over the summer. It's called "Summer Nudging," and MPR's Cathy Wurzer recently spoke with its program manager Kat Klima.

She said about 750 students have signed up this year. Students can sign up by texting "COLLEGE" to 651-243-9980.

Click audio player above to hear interview.

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