How our UpNext Texting Program helped 300,000 students go to college

UpNext was founded with one goal: to help students throughout the college application process. We realize now that the intervention was a success and has helped us to do so much more.

What’s Next?

UpNext offers free college support to high school seniors as well as first-year college students from across the country. Our team was able to expand Reach Higher’s UpNext evidence-based nudging program to reach 300,000 students in two cohorts totaling 150,000. This was possible thanks to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. UpNext text messages were not sent by a bot, unlike other texting campaigns. Instead, they were sent individually by college students via Hustle. This is a peer-to-peer texting platform. Near-Peer Mentors include students of diverse backgrounds, including those from low-income and first-generation countries. They are from a variety of academic disciplines at American University and Cornell University, Georgetown University, and The George Washington University. Additional support was provided by College Advising Corps advisors. UpNext’s evidence-based text messaging intervention has helped students overcome the odds and get on track towards their higher education goals. The intervention covered the following key topics:

What did UpNext do to address COVID-19?

COVID-19 had a profound impact on every student’s life path. UpNext content was restructured to include ways to help students affected by the pandemic. We were able to exchange financial aid resources as well as scholarship opportunities through this texting intervention. We advised college students to contact their college’s counseling center and reminded them that it was okay to feel mixed emotions (confusion fear and grief) during these difficult times. We encouraged high school students to look into a range of college options and virtual platforms (i.e. Virtual college visits, requesting additional financial aid if needed, attending a local college, or another college, are just some of the things we encouraged high school students to do.

These are the words of our UpNext Near Peer Mentors

“The texting intervention is more than just a reminder of deadlines, it allows for mentors to establish relationships between students and mentors. Gabriela Perez, an UpNext Near Peer Mentor, says that she has learned so much and is incredibly grateful for the opportunity.

“UpNext has created an interactive communication platform that encourages students to pursue higher education.” “It is very gratifying to know the positive impact that we were able to have on so many ambitious students looking for a higher education,” said Elijah Atwell (UpNext Near Peer Mentor).

For the future…

Reach Higher also has ongoing texting initiatives, including one to support high school Class 2021 and another that supports the families and parents class of 2021.

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We have seen the positive impact programs like UpNext make on students and their families as the UpNext texting intervention ends. UpNext and Class of 2020 are important resources for students in college. They provide information and support to help them succeed.