Organization provides more support for inner-city students attending college


By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership has discovered a simple but effective way to bolster the number of urban high school students attending post-secondary schooling.

“What we’re trying to do is keep in touch with them,” said Stephanie Shaw, executive director of the partnership.

Someone from the partnership sends reminder texts to students, particularly after high school graduation and before the start of the college start date.

The program is called Summer Melt, Shaw said.

For the 2013-14 academic year, while 62 percent of Campbell and Warren City Schools students took the ACT and 40 percent enrolled in some form of higher education, about 22 percent did not enroll in a college as a candidate for a degree, Shaw said, referring to National Clearinghouse data.

The partnership wanted to wait until Youngstown City Schools’ chief executive officer was on the job to work with that district’s data.

For the 2013-14 academic year, 66 percent took the ACT; 42 percent enrolled that fall and 24 percent did not enroll in a college or university.

“What we’ve found, for those that were planning on going to YSU, they said their ACT score was too low and they couldn’t get in,” Shaw said. “But Kent Trumbull and Eastern Gateway [Community College] don’t have a minimum ACT.”

Through texting those students, Shaw was able to urge them to attend EGCC or KSU at Trumbull.

She sends motivational and reminder texts: Have you registered for classes? Have you filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid?

Organization personnel intend to expand that effort, reminding students of important dates and information year round, Shaw said.

First-generation college goers may not have a family member who can walk them through the process of getting ready for college. Even if parents attended college, the process has likely changed, she said.

Eastern Ohio Education Partnership’s data manager located a Harvard study that determined it’s a problem across the country among low-income students.

Another education partnership launched a similar effort and found success.

“It leverages work that’s already going on,” Shaw said.

Rather than beginning a new program, it provides support to existing programs that are working well, she said.

“It really is simple, but I’ve often found things that are simple work best,” Shaw said.

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