Paper flyers that end up in the bottom of lockers. Morning announcements that students sleep through. Facing the challenges and limitations of traditional communication strategies, schools are turning to new technology and social networks to engage students and parents with college and scholarship information, reminders about workshops and due dates, and more. Learn what GEAR UP schools are doing and find resources to do it yourself!
At Sweet Home High School, students and parents can recieve updates about college readiness workshops, application and scholarship deadlines, and much more, with messages personalized by grade level and audience. Kristin Adams, the GEAR UP coordinator, had been sending text messages from her personal phone for several years to keep students and parents in the loop, but it was inefficiently and potentially costly. Starting this fall, she has been using a free service that allows her to send text messages to different groups of subscribers from her computer. "It has been very effective with connecting to students and parents," she says. "They are definitely getting my reminders because I have been getting phone calls with questions."
93% of teenage social media users are on Facebook, and Vicky Roller, a counselor at Taft 7-12 School in Lincoln City, is capitalizing on that fact. She created and maintains the Taft High Counselor Facebook fan page, that is peppered with local scholarship opportunities and college application advice. She can answer questions, like reassuring one student's recent inquiry as to the date of the PSAT. "It's a one-stop shop for students," Roller says, "and I probably only spend about an hour a month updating it." She shares posts and adds comments from home, as the school computer's block the Facebook website.
The North Marion GEAR UP program has recently started a Twitter account, keeping pace with their school and principal's feeds. Follow them to see how they utilize instant communication in 140 characters or less! Other schools have dedicated guidance office websites or blogs, and may collect parent e-mails in order to keep in touch online.