College and Career Planning / Life Skills / Ages 14-24

What Parents Need to Know About "Summer Melt"

Getting into college or a professional training program is a huge accomplishment. But actually getting started and thriving there is a whole new hill to climb. Unfortunately, many students get lost in the gap.

Getting into college or a professional training program is a huge accomplishment! But actually getting started and thriving there is a whole new hill to climb. Unfortunately, many students get lost in the gap between acceptance letters and the first day of classes (and even more between their first year and graduation). How can you make sure your adult-ish child makes the leap to the next phase of education successfully?

Unfortunately, many students who are accepted into college don’t actually end up attending. Researchers call this “summer melt.” This can and does happen to students from all backgrounds, but students from lower income families are at higher risk. Why does it happen?

Of course, students and their families are proud and excited about college acceptances. But many factors can interfere with students’ paths to college before they get started. Some big ones include missing important deadlines for enrollment and deposits, unexpected costs, a lack of guidance over the summer between high school and college, and general anxiety about navigating the complexities of this transition. Some students might start worrying about leaving home. They might feel like earning money in a job is a higher priority. Sometimes communication about financial aid can be overwhelming or confusing, leaving students and families feeling uncertain of how much they’ll need to pay. There are many reasons why college might be appealing when students imagine it, but more intimidating when it comes to reality. 

The hard truth is there are a lot of things college and universities can and should do to help students along the path to and through college. Research shows that a number of small, affordable interventions make a meaningful difference, especially for first-generation and low-income college students. 

But since colleges’ actions are outside our control, there are still some things your family can do at home to help teens get off to a strong start in college.

Check out these tips to help your young adult transition into further education without a hitch.