THE LAST MILE: PREVENTING SUMMER MELT – PART 2

The first day of class is fast approaching, but is your campus ready? Many institutions are stuck scrambling to fill the remainder of their class or tracking down unresponsive admits instead of focusing on strategies for the Fall. As part of our series on Summer Melt, we’ve compiled some of the recent trends for your incoming class.

1. DOUBLE DEPOSIT: Recent data from the College Board highlight the significant increase in students that accept admission at more than one institution as a method of buying time when deciding on a college or negotiating financial aid offers. Students hedging their bets, however, create uncertainty for colleges as they become apprehensive about the size of their incoming class. Over 250 institutions recently reported that they have freshmen and transfer openings for the upcoming fall semester.

2. INSTITUTION COMPETITION: According to the NACAC’s ethical guidelines, colleges should “not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled, registered, have initiated deferred admission, or have declared their intent, or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions.” Roughly 29% of admissions directors that participated in Inside Higher Ed’s recent survey admitted to recruiting students who had committed to other colleges after May 1 – the nationally-recognized decision deadline. This action is unethical yes, but not legally banned. Admissions offices may feel pressured to poach students in order to meet institutions’ lofty enrollment goals. Will backfilling financial aid offers become the new normal in an increasingly more competitive higher ed community?

3. EDUCATION GAP: The new majority that you hear so many admissions and education experts referring to continues to impact how students apply and deposit. The U.S. Department of Education notes that the percentage of Whites who earned a high school diploma has remained higher than that of Blacks and Hispanics; however, the size of the gaps have narrowed over the years. The White-Black attainment gap has decreased from eight to four percentage points, while the White-Hispanic attainment gap has dropped from 32 to 18 percentage points. Furthermore, college enrollment gaps for both Blacks and Hispanics have narrowed such that there are no significant differences in enrollment between White (67 percent), Black (62 percent), and Hispanic (69 percent) college-bound students. These changing demographics demonstrate the need for admissions offices to evolve their existing enrollment strategies.

These trends may not feel new, but the strategies that other institutions are using to combat the uncertainty of the summer months reflect a desire to innovate and reject the status quo. Stay tuned for the final installment of our series!