Little Black Bag
Ever found yourself searching for a pen and unable to find one? How about rifling through your desk drawer for a sticky note to write yourself a little reminder? While most of us don’t struggle to afford pens and highlighters, we know how frustrating it is to be without supplies when we really need them. So do our students. But unlike most of us, many students are unable to afford the school supplies they need to be successful. That’s why the Educational Opportunity Center puts together supply bags to give to needy students.
EOC Advisor Sonya Davis said the outreach began about three years ago. “At a staff meeting we were discussing ways that we could support our students, and decided that giving them a bag with supplies would get them off to a good start in school. I have met with students that really don’t have anything to get started with school and cannot afford to buy even simple supplies such as notebooks, highlighters, etc., so they are absolutely thrilled to receive a bag of supplies and it definitely helps them get a good start in school.”
The little black bags contain some of the supplies essential for classes including a two or four-subject notebooks, highlighters, pens, pencils, a lanyard, post-it notes, index cards, and a thumb drive. The thumb drives were donated by Community First Credit Union and contain information about financial literacy in college. Students must be EOC participants to receive a bag and although we can’t give a bag to every individual who uses the EOC, staff members use their best judgment in giving out the bags to under-resourced students.
Text messaging is one of the primary modes of communication among college students. Knowing this, the U. S. Department of Education funded a “research study to learn if texting is helpful in supporting EOC participants to…successfully navigate the college enrollment process.” The research study is called, “Text-Ed.”
Participating students have the opportunity to be chosen to receive text messages. If selected they are assigned to a Text-Ed advisor and receive intermittent messages encouraging them to complete their entrance counseling, sign their master promissory note, file their FAFSA or enroll. When students receive a text, they have an opportunity to respond and ask questions. They may also contact their advisor via email if they need additional help.
The EOC at Indian Hills Community College has committed to enrolling 250 students in the study by May of 2020. Currently, 81 have been enrolled and of those enrolled, 42 have been selected to participate in the research. So far, students who have met the requirements for enrollment have been happy for a chance at extra help.
To be suitable for enrollment in the study, students must be 18 or older, have a high school degree, and have a cell phone. Study participants may not already be enrolled in college.