How to Tackle Summer Melt

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What is Summer Melt? 

Summer melt has been a growing concern in recent years, and describes the unique situation of when an admitted student does not show up for their classes in the fall semester. Although summer melt is applicable to students of all education levels, research shows that the repercussions for recent high school graduates is the most profound.  

It has been reported that students who are accepted into college but do not show up in the fall semester are less likely to ever enroll into higher education. More specifically, a recent study shows that approximately 10-20% of college-bound high school seniors fall victim to melt every summer. This number is even higher for low-income and first-generation college students, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 40% of these students are affected by summer melt.

Causes of Summer Melt

Summer melt is caused by a variety of different factors like financial constraints or the absence of a social support system. Whether compounded together or occurring separately, lacking proper guidance can transform this proverbial milestone into a stressful and confusing time for incoming students – ultimately leading to melt.   

Financial constraints can impede a student's access to resources needed to make the transition from high school to college (i.e., tuition costs, traveling for a campus visit, housing or deposit fees). In other cases, students are often overwhelmed by the amount of information required of them to confirm their admission. Lastly, the lack of familial support or direction from college counselors can lead to a misguided understanding of the admissions process and result in a student’s loss of motivation and ultimate withdrawal from the process entirely.  

The help provided by family, friends, and college professionals during this transitional period is necessary to a students enrollment for the fall semester, and lack thereof increases the chance of a student feeling discouraged and confused. Students seek guidance and the more support you can provide, the more you will minimize the likelihood of melt.

Steps to Tackle and Reduce Melt 

Although there isn’t a one-fit solution to deter students on the brink of melt, there are a number of proactive steps that can be taken to help reduce this phenomenon and ensure your students show up for classes in the fall. 

First, reaching out to students as early as possible in their college application journey is key to ensuring you have begun fostering a long-standing relationship with them and are addressing their specific interests or concerns. After students are accepted into your institution, providing them with resources about deposit reminders, missing documents, and notice of upcoming orientations, helps equip students with the proper guidance of what is expected of them.  

Second, introduce students to counselors so that they have the opportunity to discuss, one-on-one, their options for financial and mental health aid at your school. Offering support with updates about FAFSA or other scholarships and grants available helps ease student uncertainties upon receiving an offer.

The Best Melt Resource 

The most vital resource for a student at risk of melt is a familiar face at the school they are intending to attend. While webinars and events are a great way to integrate the student into the general community, it is truly those personal relationships that have a larger impact on a student’s comfort with the institution, especially if there are concerns or insecurities they don’t feel comfortable sharing in a more public setting. Continuing to maintain a relationship with students after they’ve accepted their offer is an important consideration in ensuring that they do not become another lost opportunity.  

Key Takeaway 

It’s important that you act as a reminder for the student to stay in line with their goals. Gen Z can easily be distracted by other commitments and personal ongoings that they may have their college priorities in the back of their mind. Keeping in touch with them throughout the process and showing you care can be an incredibly helpful link in ensuring they remain on course to attend in the Fall. 

Summer melt has been a growing concern in recent years, as many students are unable to make the transition from high school to college for various reasons. In this article, we will discuss what summer melt is, explore the causes, and look at some of the steps to tackle and reduce this unfortunate hindrance to our yield efforts. 

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