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Text Messaging - Not Just for Students Anymore

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Nearly 80% of college students send and receive text messages, averaging 115 messages per month. A 2006 study by Campus Media Group indicated that students spend almost 20 minutes a day sending and receiving text messages. Colleges are jumping on the texting bandwagon to notify students of many things.

When the shootings occurred at Virginia Tech, officials sent out e-mail alerts according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Few people received them. Students are less inclined to rely on e-mail for information than they used to be. This trend is prompting many colleges to adopt other methods of emergency notification. Many of these services involve cell phones.

There are a variety of notification services that schools can subscribe to that will text emergency notification to students when needed. Students are required to register their contact information with the school to receive these notifications. Unfortunately, administrators are finding that students are not rushing to sign up text alerts. After the Virginia Tech shootings, many campuses felt this was the answer to keeping their students alert to danger, but students don’t seem to share their concerns. There are privacy concerns for students who register their cell phones with these services. Most want to be assured that their cell phone numbers will not be sold or used in ways other than for informational alerts.

Another way that colleges are using text messaging is in recruitment. College coaches are using a loophole in NCAA regulations to contact recruits. The NCAA limits college coaches to one phone call per week to a recruit during his senior season. Text messages are not considered phone calls and are not restricted. This has turned recruiting into a 24-hour-a-day process. Texts are often received at inopportune times, like during the school day during classes. Most of these texts are small talk and not important, they are sent to keep a player’s attention on a particular school. The NCAA has considered limiting text messaging. One proposal for banning it altogether was overwhelmingly opposed. Another proposal is to restrict sending text messages to certain hours of the day. One thing is for certain, it is a problem and needs to be fixed.

A unique use of text messaging is occurring at Creighton University. High school students aren’t waiting at the mailbox to find out if they’ve been admitted, they’re looking at their cell phones. The school recently added the option for applicants to learn about their admission status via text messaging. The university is trying to respond to the needs of its students by providing them with instant information. Text messages are sent to students within 24 hours of the admission committee’s decision, whereas acceptance letters can take several days to draft and then must be mailed.

Text messaging has become a common pet peeve among professors. Some students insist upon texting during class even when the professor has advised this behavior is not acceptable. You can’t give your professor your full attention if you are busy sending someone a text message. It’s a good idea to turn off your phone while in class.

Mobile devices can exacerbate the problem of cheating in the college classroom; Students can text-message answers to one another during exams. Spark-Mobile, a service from study-guide publisher SparkNotes, lets students send in text-message queries and get crib notes instantly. There have been numerous cheating schemes uncovered at many different schools using text messaging. If you are caught cheating, you face disciplinary action up to and possibly including expulsion.

Most of us are aware of the new lingo developed by texters to enable them to text quickly. While these abbreviated spellings save on character space and time, if they show up on papers, there may be a problem. The ability to write is one of the most important skills you will learn in college. It is directly related to job success. If texting inhibits students from learning to write articulately, their future could be affected.

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