What is “summer melt” exactly? It’s a term describing situations where prospective college students–who have already been accepted into university even with over-qualifying academic scores–do not attend the fall term for some reason. Research suggests that one in five high school graduates is susceptible to the summer melt phenomenon. For many years, researchers have been figuring out what causes summer melt. Turns out that it is caused by the initial steps (usually administrative paperwork) before entering college, and some ill-timed mishaps happening along the way. For example, a hypothetical high school graduate in Atlanta named Austin aspires to go to Georgia State University in the fall. Austin excelled in his classes during high school and was ready to attend in September, until a college administrator lost Austin’s admission forms. This is when the “summer melt” hits for Austin: he has been temporarily barred from going to college, through no real fault of his own. Austin needs to consult with a school administrator to fix the problem, and who knows how long that can take (hint: usually long). In a more generalized example, students applying for loans often do not understand the terms of it because of the lengthy (and often confusing) wording. When students accept the terms and receive their tuition bills, they are surprised by just how costly the fees are–even with their federal and private loans being applied. It’s like a reverse version of sticker shock.
Summer melt tends to happen with first-generation college students. As a first generation college student, I endured a handful of these issues, and it could got very overwhelming, very quickly. But I sifted through my college’s various resources (i.e. career centers, freshman programs, extracurricular activities, etc.) and found some tools to navigate through the minefield of administrative and financial hurdles to getting my foot in the door and simply enrolling.
To prevent/avoid the summer melt, here are some resources that can help:
- Academic advisors
- College counselors
- College website
(Photo by Tirso Lecointere)