Can Innovative Texting Push More Teens Into College?
What if your high-school guidance counselor could live inside your smartphone? That’s the idea behind Siembra, a new platform designed by Silicon Valley engineers that aims to give low-income and first-generation students a push toward college.
Siembra (Spanish for growing seeds) uses texting to connect with young people. Ninth graders receive a very simple message: “Where do you want to go to college?”
“No one has ever asked them that,” Julio Garcia, a consulting senior research psychologist at Stanford, told John Marcus of The Hechinger Report. “Many kids have no expectations that they should go to college. They’re below the radar, for all kinds of reasons.”
Though the program is new, Siembra’s initial data suggests that students are reading the texts about 80 percent of the time, and about 10 percent use the programs “ask-a-counselor” feature to follow up.
Simply getting a reminder that they’re worthy and have the power to go to college might be enough to increase enrollment rates. And to remind them that they have choices—just like any good high school counselor would do.