Top 3 Reasons Your Students May “Melt” This Summer and What You Can Do About It

The school-year is just around the corner and with all the fun in the sun that summer brings often comes a scary reality that institutions face each year. Summer melt.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page, summer melt is defined as: “the phenomenon that students pay a deposit to attend a particular college but do not matriculate at that college the following fall.”

According to Harvard study titled The Forgotten Summer, authored by Benjamin L Castleman and Lindsay C. Page, the problems faced by students can be distilled into three main issues:

  1. Cost – Finding aid from additional sources of aid, requesting additional aid from the institution, and securing loans.
  2. Social Anxiety – Fear of leaving home, making new friends, and facing new experiences.
  3. Informational Barriers – Trouble understanding college registration forms, housing options and requirements, and orientation programs.

1. Cost – Financial Aid Sourcing and Counseling 

Castleman et al. focused on interviewing low-income students of color who had been accepted to college from Boston-area schools who had requested assistance from ACCESS. The methods of outreach included phone, email, text, and Facebook.The results were staggering. Students who received 2-3 hours of finance focused college counseling over the course of a summer were significantly less likely to melt.

In their cohort, the students who received the counseling were 4.1 percent more likely to enroll compared to those who did not. The cost for each student who received counseling was about $200. In comparison, this same 4.1 percent increase could be achieved by offering the same group of students an additional $1000 grant for attending. Financial aid counseling was three times more cost effective than offering additional aid grants.

2. Social Anxiety – Is this College the Right Fit?

Anonymized student conversation around social anxiety in Inigral’s Schools App.

Not only can students receive one-on-one counseling through social media tools, but they can also engage with their peers to alleviate social anxiety. Most Admissions offices utilize some sort of community to connect their incoming classes, whether it be a Facebook Page, Group or Private App. Community.

We often see students post in Schools App the summer before how they are nervous about making friends and look to connect with other students based on hometown, major, and shared interests. While it’s hard to separate causation from correlation we’ve seen students engaging in Eastern Michigan’s Schools App 4x’s less likely to melt than non-community members.

3. Informational Barriers – Where do I…

Anonymized student conversation around institutional navigation in Inigral’s Schools App.

The problem institutions face with managing communication are many. Although social media channels offer a new way to interact with students, there is no guarantee students are receiving the right information at the right time of the enrollment cycle.

We’ve heard countless stories from clients explaining how even when they send detailed information to students, these can be lost through multiple email addresses which can causes students to miss important deadlines. When only 10% of your student body opens an email you know there is room for improvement. Although this post isn’t about us, we’ve just released an exciting new product, Announcements to help solve some of these issues. Within the past month we’ve seen open rates as much as 4 times with multi-channel iPhone, SMS, Facebook and email notifications.

What strategies are you using to fight summer melt? Have you seen social media have a measurable effect on your melt rate?