You Can’t Earn a Degree If You Don’t Show Up: Tips for Beating “Summer Melt”

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Graduation is a time to celebrate. After the party is over, though, the season between high school and college can create what is called “summer melt,” where students end up giving up on college before they even make it to the first day of fall classes in which they’ve enrolled.


Students who fall into the summer melt trap often do so because the support they received from their high school counselor (or other school staff) is no longer there to help them with the final steps between high school and college. Everything from sending transcripts and completing housing forms to registering for orientation and paying tuition can weigh heavily upon a student who has no school, family or peer support.

Facing challenges in getting information, dealing with the financial details of student financial aid and just the social anxiety of such a large lifestyle change can discourage students from making it to that first day of class.

Many of these issues can be addressed at home during summer by parents speaking with their student about college and helping them prepare for their fall semester. Encouragement is an equally strong tool. Encouraging students to attend their freshman orientation, as well as interacting with friends who are enrolled and attending college will help students not only overcome the barriers that lack of information can provide, but also give them a chance to build a network of peers to better deal with the social change of life after high school.

Just because a student may have graduated, it doesn’t mean that they can no longer reach out to their high school support system. By remaining in contact with school counselors, teachers, and college administrators over summer, students can get answers to many questions from the very people who helped them succeed in high school.

Colleges and other organizations are also looking for ways to help curtail summer melt. After reports that more students respond to text messages than emails, many schools are delivering information about deadlines and events to students via their phone. Schools are also using current students in communities that suffer from summer melt to outreach with incoming students to further help create a support network that can stem summer melt.

Above all, students should remember: They’ve done the hard part and gained acceptance to college. But they can’t get their degree if they don’t show up.


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