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The Summer After High School Graduation and College Success (Part II)

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BookMarks concludes the interview with Benjamin L. Castleman, assistant professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, and Lindsay C. Page, assistant professor of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. They are the authors of Summer Melt: Supporting Low-Income Students Through the Transition to College by discussing the importance of schools' continued correspondence with students during the summer after graduation to ensure a seamless transition into college. Mr. Castleman and Ms. Page prepared their answers to the following questions together.Summer Melt_BookMarks_2.jpg

For more on college access, read Parts One and Two of "Educators Discuss College Access of Inner-City Students" on BookMarks, "Higher Education & Poverty," the latest installment of Education Week's blog OpEducation, Education Week Commentary's War on Poverty coverage and special online collection College Access for All, which includes an exclusive Commentary by Michelle Obama on her undergraduate experience at Princeton and her Reach Higher campaign.

BookMarks: How can counselors use technology to help students follow through with their college plans?

Castleman/Page: In our earliest summer interventions, counselors began outreach using traditional modes of communication, like phone and email.  We quickly found that counselors were investing a lot of time just trying to get in touch with students. When we switched to tools like text-messaging and Facebook, student responsiveness increased dramatically. We subsequently implemented interventions through which we sent students automated, personalized texts to remind them about key college transition tasks and to offer one-on-one counselor support.  This is a low-cost, efficient strategy for communication that many schools and districts can use to reach students. More generally, we encourage counselors to try to meet students and families where they are, technologically speaking, whether it's texting or other communications media that are pervasive among their student population.

BookMarks: Do counselors and teachers need to stay in touch with graduates in that summer before college?

Castleman/Page: Yes! Across several contexts and interventions, we find that proactive outreach during the summer months has a positive impact on on-time college matriculation. Unfortunately, just making counselors available for help during the summer often isn't enough. Even when students are informed at the beginning of the summer that counselors are available to provide help, students largely do not initiate contact.  Therefore, having supporting adults proactively reach out is a key piece to providing successful summer transition support.

Photo Credit: Harvard Education Press

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