Local College Access Network Aims to Reduce Barriers for StudentsSeptember 6th, 2015 by gainesvillechamber
United Way Launches Free Program That “Charts the Course” Through Texts with Important Enrollment Information from Schools of Interest
United Way of North Central Florida announces a free texting service in Alachua County and beyond to connect college-bound students to schools of their choice statewide.
The free texting program, piloted two years ago in Orlando by the Heart of Florida United Way and the YMCA of Central Florida, is aimed at increasing college access in the region by providing guidance via text messages throughout the application process.
The “Going to College” texting program allows students and parents to simply text a preassigned code to receive information about that school’s registration deadlines, financial aid and other relevant resources. Students and parents can sign up for alerts for multiple schools, or just one.
All of the public universities in Florida are currently participating, including University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of South Florida, Florida A&M University, Florida International University and more. Two year colleges such as Valencia College, Seminole State College and the recently added No. 1-ranked Santa Fe College are also on the list.
“This program provides one more tool in a family’s toolkit to help their child stay on track and on mission with regards to continuing their education,” said UWNCFL President & CEO Deborah Bowie.
“We know how effective texting can be in communicating today with young people and this offers an innovative way to keep them informed so they can meet important deadlines as they matriculate from high school,” Bowie said.
“Students and families are so busy, and that’s especially true as they start planning for college,” said Alachua County Public Schools’ Director of Communications and Community Initiatives Jackie Johnson. “This is another excellent tool to help ensure they stay on track throughout the process.”
According to research from the White House, “information barriers,” along with income barriers, are major obstacles in making post-secondary education a reality. Studies show that children from less affluent backgrounds – even those with high abilities – for example, lack the “road maps” necessary to access college. Therefore, making deadlines and properly filling out applications for enrollment and financial aid significantly limit students from going to college—especially those who might be the first in their families to ever apply, Bowie said.