Simple Steps Help Students Get to College

Barriers to a College Education

We wanted to share a great article with you! The New York Times article “Text Your Way to College” talks about both the barriers to a four-year college education and some simple ways to knock those barriers down. It highlights the fact that many low-income, first-generation students don’t know how to access money for college. And even if they do receive financial aid, they are less likely to make it to campus. They can be derailed by many other challenges – including the complexities of signing up for housing, registering for classes, and filing other paperwork.

Text Your Way to College

“Text Your Way to College” references a number of great interventions that could help. But the most striking are new text message campaigns that act as virtual college counselors. In a pilot study by Benjamin Castleman at the University of Virginia, students received a text reminding them to complete their paperwork and offering them help if they needed it. 72% of those students enrolled in college. In another study, students who received text reminders to keep their grades up and fill out financial aid forms were shown to be 20% more likely to stay in college.

It’s Already Helping Students

We were excited to see this approach highlighted because we know that it is already working. One of CDI’s partner high schoolsEL Haynes Public Charter School, used the Signal Vine text messaging system with their recent alumni. Signal Vine sent them timely messages regarding the steps in their college process. The students were able to respond and get individual feedback and support.

“We had a 70% engagement rate among students with the platform and appreciated the opportunity to provide information to and get information from students in this format,” said Barrie Moorman, a teacher who also works in alumni support at Haynes.


For the past eleven years, CDI has guided low-income, first-generation students to and through college. We know that a college education improves not only the lives of our students, but also the lives of their families and communities.  And we cannot do this work without the support of our generous donors – both foundations and individuals.

We hope you’ll also consider supporting low-income, first-generation students on their path to college and make a donation.

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