Don’t Have a Meltdown! Understanding Summer Melt and How to Fight It

May 1st has come and gone, and college recruiters are now turning their attention to the dreaded phenomenon known as ‘Summer Melt.’ Here are a few facts and takeaways to help you prepare for (and reduce) melt for your incoming fall class.

How do you rank?

Although summer melt rates fluctuate from year to year, we find that our partner institutions experience melt as low as 5% and as high as 30%, depending on the institution’s student body and financial requirements.

What are your primary predictors?

While there are many reasons, here are the primary factors for melt this year that we’re seeing:

  • Affordability: Students struggle with finding additional sources of financial assistance, securing loans, and often don’t reach out to the institution for help or don’t know how.
  • Safety: Students often experience anxiety – the fear of being away from home, making new friends, and facing new experiences.
  • Diversity: (Or lack thereof) Students may not perceive that they fit in with a particular institution.
  • Barriers to information: Students may struggle with completing college registration forms, making housing decisions and registering for orientation programs. This could be a particular issue for first-gen students, where the parents themselves may also lack information and not know about resources available to assist them.
  • Second choice: When students are removed from a waitlist they often will decide to attend their first choice school and forfeit their deposit or other commitment to attend their second choice school.

What your top strategies for preventing melt?

The goal of an anti-melt campaign is to make the individual student want to attend one particular school to which they have made a commitment more than any other school to which they have also committed (deposit or otherwise).

  • Offer ways to connect with students on a personal level, letting them know they are wanted and already a part of the community. For example, offer students a discount at the bookstore to purchase their very first piece of spirit-wear so they feel invested in the brand.
  • Take the time between making a deposit and enrolling in classes to learn more about that specific student, engaging them in online with personality and interest surveys.
  • Send a newsletter to parents and students to keep them apprised of what is going on at your institution in the spring and summer months. Who is your commencement speaker? What new internships are you offering, what are your current students planning for the summer?
  • Leverage social media channels with informal invitations and posts.
  • Engage students online by encouraging them to post photos from their summer life. It is essential to connect with students starting June through August, showing them what you can do together can’t happen anywhere else. Create an exclusive relationship.

What are you doing differently from prior years, or different from other institutions?

  • From a marketing perspective, create content that is authentic.  An example would be student ambassador-made videos/ social media vs hiring professionals.
  • Put less emphasis on National Decision Day, and more emphasis on individuals to help students find the institution that is the right fit for them, and why. Personalization is key.
  • Focus on financial resources and ways to reduce debt.
  • Make every effort to stay connected throughout the summer.
  • Students who decide to attend your institution expect to be in constant communication. At this stage, they welcome calls, emails, and text.

Summer melt can be stressful, so remember to keep your cool! Treat your incoming class like family and continue to remind each student that they are a valued new member of your campus community. At TWG Plus, we know the benefit of establishing a personalized, one-to-one connection with each student. Ask us how we can customize an anti-melt plan for your institution!