Cooling Down Summer Melt: Three Tips to Help Counselors Support Students Through Summer Melt
The below is provided to us by guest blogger Danielle Cannady, adviser at Genesys Works.
School is almost over for the year and the weather is heating up. That means summer melt is on its way. “Summer melt”refers to the disturbing trend that, of students who are preparing to attend college in the fall, 10-40 percent will not enroll their fall semester.
As a college counselor, I help students work hard all year to get accepted into the college of their dreams. Seeing their plans derailed the summer before their first year is tough. Every summer before students graduate, I ask myself, what can I do to help my students stay on track to enroll this fall?
Check out the three strategies I’ll be using this summer to cool down summer melt for my graduating seniors!
- Start Early
In my experience working with students during summer melt, it makes a significant difference when you begin your advising and interventions. At the beginning of every summer, my organization sends out a survey to see exactly where our students are with completing enrollment steps. We use the results of our survey to estimate which of our students are at the greatest risk of not enrolling in the fall. From there, I meet with students on the list to advise and encourage them to continue completing their enrollment.
My advice is to use the month of May to establish a baseline of which students are most vulnerable to the heat of summer melt. Once you compile this list of students, begin reaching out to them as soon as possible to establish rapport and a plan for finishing enrollment.
- Watch Out for Surprises
There’s a quote that says, “if plan A doesn’t work, don’t worry, the alphabet has 25 more letters”. As someone who works with students that struggle to pay for college and are often the first in their family to go to college, this most certainly is the case. Though I meticulously craft my list of students at risk of summer melt, every single year I add 10-15 more students as the summer progresses. Last minute changes in aid or an unexpected family crisis can turn a green flag student into red instantly.
My advice is not to focus summer melt advising only on red flag students. Though I spend the bulk of my summer meeting with students at increased risk for melt, I also use Signal Vine, a texting platform, to send critical reminders to all students regarding important deadlines for college.
- Ramp up Services for the First Week of School
In my first year working with students transitioning from high school to college, I thought the first week of school was my finish line! Wooh! My students made it this far so they’re good to go to go-right? Wrong! Many students (including those who were previously okay) need support as they start fall semester. Between loans not disbursing, strange holds on students’ accounts, or other last minute issues, the first week of school is often when college counselors’ work overtime to help students successfully transition to college.
My advice is to prepare to ramp up services during the first week of college. In my office, our entire team pulls double shifts this week. We meet with each other’s students and field calls, and emails from concerned students. It’s definitely an “all hands on deck” situation that my team and I have learned to anticipate. Chat with your college support staff about what your plan will be for this busy week.
That’s all for my tips for Summer Melt 2017! Hopefully you can use these tips and resources like the Harvard Strategic Data Project Summer Melt Handbook to beat the heat of summer melt!