How Schools and Students Can Keep Their Cool During Summer Melts
Another Fourth of July holiday has come and gone. The summer season is at the halfway point. It is also a very serious time of year for two groups of people: graduating seniors and professionals at institutions of higher learning. What’s so serious? Both groups are dealing with the inevitable “summer melts.” High school and college administrators, teachers, and counselors know all too well about this phenomenon. How can it be dealt with?
What exactly are “summer melts”?
“Summer melts” is when the desire among graduating seniors to attend college or any other postsecondary school “melts” during this warm season before the scheduled start of their very first semester. Reasons behind summer melts can range from students simply feeling intimidated by such a major change to more concrete issues, such as financial concerns. Obviously, this change-of-heart and mind is frustrating for everyone – from the students themselves to their parents, and of course, the faculty and administrators of the schools these kids planned on attending.
What can be done to keep these students on track? How can the summer melts be minimized? A number of strategies – some traditional, some high-tech – may be of help.
Build a bridge between colleges and graduating seniors who have second thoughts.
In EIN News Desk, Andrea Donegan, a counselor for Dyer Intermediate in Wisconsin, provided suggestions for how high school and college administrators can maintain the initial interest of graduating seniors who are ready – but no longer as willing – to continue their education. It’s all about keeping communication and connection strong, particularly in the spring and summer. This can be accomplished by:
- Encouraging students to register for email accounts at the colleges they’ve chosen. Emails sent to students about classes, campus life, and other college-related news can keep interest alive.
- Directing each student to keep track of the “admitted student checklist” that’s posted to the website of their college of choice. These lists provide information of deadline-driven tasks students must complete before the semester begins. The rationale is if students dutifully keep up with these checklists, they will be less inclined to back out of attending once the term starts.
- Stepping up social media awareness. Seniors should like, follow, and join the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other platforms related to the schools they are considering.
- Maintaining orientation programs. While online resources are convenient and informative, they cannot replace the personal interaction students and their families will have in meeting with the faculty and staff of a college and getting a feel for its atmosphere.
The list above can apply to any situation where a student is hesitant about attending college. But there are other scenarios where summer melts take hold, particularly where finances are concerned.
A new purpose for texting: Helping students who have money worries.
Richard Barth, who is with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), reported in Forbes on a recent innovative tactic to help curb summer melts, specifically among students in low income communities. Last month, KIPP implemented an exclusive “National Nudge Texting Pilot.” This tool – supplemented by artificial intelligence (AI) – is used by a network of KIPP-affiliated students in eight regions of the nation. For the next 18 months, “nudge” text messages will be scheduled and sent by KIPP to a targeted student base consisting of its graduating class of 2019 and the college-enrolled alumni class of 2018. With the aid of AI and behavioral insights from the its alumni database, KIPP’s ability to communicate with these students is more open and stronger. By texting school-related information and answers to questions, students will stay engaged, focused, and hopefully motivated to make that major move from high school to college – and not become a statistic of the summer melts.
While the “National Nudge Texting Pilot” strategy by KIPP is still relatively new, Mr. Barth considers it as a step in the right direction for encouraging graduating seniors to continue with their education. If successful, it may be expanded to beyond the currently targeted eight regions. Perhaps other schools will take notice and adopt a similar strategy to keep their students on track. Additionally, Mr. Barth hopes there will be an increase in FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
Will summer melts ever melt away?
Whether the concerns center on fear or finances, the pressure is on for graduating seniors as they decide on their next move. These students – and the faculty and administrators of their considered schools – need help and support in staying connected and on course.
EGC has extensive experience in admissions marketing. If you are a school administrator, contact us to learn more about keeping the lines of communication between schools and prospective students connected and cool; so cool, in fact, there will be little chance of a melt.