Text messages remind Wisconsin Rapids students of college enrollment deadlines

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW)-- As many as 40% of incoming college freshmen from low income households fail to enroll. Now, 13 public school districts in Wisconsin have started sending their students text reminders on college deadlines.

Last fall the Ascendium Education Group launched the $630,000 Text Steps program. It sends students reminders about enrollment deadlines.

Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High participates. They said 67 students signed up. Guidance counselors provide extra support. Counselors even send reminders about housing, meal plans and financial aid.

Ronald Rasmussen, principal of Lincoln High school said over the summer three counselors worked with students to create a more comforting experience.

"I think it’s important to just have a contact, or familiar face or know you. [They] can always come back to the building and get a question answered. We're not, as soon as you graduate, we're just not shutting you off that. You have this open door, open communication. Obviously we want our kids to find success after school and feel comfortable as a Red Raider coming back to Lincoln,” Rasmussen said.

The counselors worked with others in the state to get information on any college a students might be attending to have all the dates and information on hand.

Emily Stieve, the college career and volunteer at Lincoln High School said that while it may be a big task, the program made it easy for both the counselor and graduate.

"Being able to just send a quick text message once a week throughout the summer just to touch base and just to make sure they are feeling comfortable. We were there for them to answer any questions. I think it helped make the students feel a lot more comfortable and less stresses about what the next step was,” Stieve explained.

River Cities High School in Wisconsin Rapids also participated in the text steps program. The program was free and available for all graduating seniors at the schools through the summer.