‘Summer Melt’ … it’s a term I knew nothing about as a senior in high school, although it was happening all around me. We all daydreamed and speculated in the hallways about what life after high school would bring. We eagerly discussed moving away from our parents – oh, the freedom! We applied to college after college for varying reasons: campus events, friends we’d make, life experiences we would have, the concentration or major the school specialized in, the amazing location. For others, it came down to finding the right financial fit and a school we could count on. We, of course, had no idea that all the colleges we’d applied to and then never enrolled in had, in some way, been counting on us as well. As the summer after graduation flew past, the last thing on our minds was the colleges we’d applied to but had decided against.
As admission professionals, this drop of college-intending students (those that apply then drop out of the enrollment funnel between graduation and the start of fall classes) commonly referred to as ‘Summer Melt’ has a significant impact on institutions. There are a variety of reasons why this happens ranging from financial aid falling through or lack of support or guidance, to difficulties in the logistics of actually attending college. The students who once had a bevy of friends around them to urge them forward – guidance counselors, financial aid advisors, teachers with their interests in mind – suddenly find themselves navigating the next steps alone. The entire support network that had surrounded them is gone. One Harvard study noted that between 10 and 40 percent of students melt away in the summer months. This melt is even more prevalent in low-income communities. That is a difficult number for an institution to justify. Luckily, there are 5 tips that institutions can apply to lessen the blow and cool the melt.
1. Transition Programs
Often referred to as “Launch to College” events, transition programs bring alumni, current students, financial aid officers, and college representatives together to encourage and aid in the transition from high school graduation to college.
2. Comm Flows
Keep open lines of communication and continue to build student engagement and excitement about their choice to attend your college. A skilled Higher Education marketing company such as TWG Plus can help launch an anti-melt campaign to seamlessly continue the dialogue with your students.
3. Specialized Teams
Create an internal team of people to reach out personally to each student to ensure their questions are answered, they know where to find resources to help them, and they are talked through processes that can hinder their movement forward.
4. Leverage School Counselors
Some institutions are hiring guidance counselors on a contract basis to continue their support to incoming students throughout the summer months.
5. Analyze your Data
Know what the rates of summer melt are among your students and the trends among them. Consider employing a company such as TWG Plus to conduct research of prospective and current students to gauge where the students are dropping and why. Detailed analysis will show you exactly where and when to focus your anti-melt strategies.
Any of the above tips will yield positive results for both your institution and your students. A combination will bring you close to your enrollment goals.
For more information on Summer Melt, Research, or hitting your enrollment goals, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org