While it’s always a concern for admissions teams that high school graduates change their minds about attending college, this summer will be particularly challenging. Isolation and uncertainty are two new factors that could cause more grads to melt before fall rolls around, even after they deposit. Fighting melt in the time of COVID will take diligence.
Have a COVID-19 plan in place
These are unprecedented times, and there’s a chance that some high school grads pause their education to see how things play out with COVID-19. You can’t rightly influence their decision, but you can build confidence by letting students know all of the steps your college is taking to ensure classes will run smoothly, online or when campuses open.
Knowing that there will be a lot of questions about the effects of COVID-19 on the upcoming fall semester, it's important to keep these three ideas in mind to help both parents and students feel safe and connected going into their upcoming school year.
- Make students aware of online resources
- Create a virtual community for incoming students
- Have a knowledge base or portal for students to talk openly about those going through the same experience
Parents are your allies
These days, parents are likely to be the only ones with regular in-person contact with students, making their influence even greater. Keep an open line of communication with parents and make sure they’re in the loop with important deadlines and dates. Send parents texts at certain intervals to encourage them to touch base with their children. This way, they can guide their kids through the process.
Be clear about costs
The costs of higher education add up. It’s much easier for a parent or high school grad to process and plan for the first semester when they know what’s expected in terms of tuition, fees, and costs of supplies and books. Be as transparent as possible with costs to help students avoid “sticker shock.”
It’s also important to make students and parents aware of opportunities for scholarships and tuition aid that can help offset those costs.
Warning signs of melt
When a student has completed an early step of enrollment, but failed to reach follow-up deadlines, that’s a sure sign that melt is possible. Pay attention to large gaps between due dates and responses, and make yourself available to help them through the parts of the process that might be confusing.
Virtual campus tours and orientation sessions are a good way to not only familiarize students with your school, but to also check in on their intentions. A simple RSVP nudge can tell you a lot about whether or not a student is having second thoughts about attending school in the upcoming semester.
Texting templates to avoid melt
These texting templates can help your staff stay on message and save time.
Preparing for college for parents
<FIRST NAME>, we are so excited that your family is considering <SCHOOL NAME>. As you and your student prepare to make college decisions, do you have any questions or challenges with which I can help?
<FIRST NAME>, we’ve sent out our financial aid decision which you should have received by now. We know that paying for college is incredibly important for parents and guardians. Do you have any questions or concerns I can help with?
Virtual orientation invite
<FIRST NAME>, we are looking forward to having you attend our virtual orientation. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn more about <SCHOOL NAME> and have your questions answered. Please check your email for the official invite and directions. In the meantime, can I answer any questions?
Introduction to advisor
<FIRST NAME>, it’s been a pleasure to work with you as you made your college decision. We’re thrilled you’re enrolling at <SCHOOL NAME>! As you prepare for your first semester, your advisor will be a valuable resource and your main contact moving forward. Wishing you the best!
Support and understanding can reduce melt
Today’s high school graduates face unfamiliar obstacles. While this is still an exciting time in their lives, they’re likely to miss the experience of in-person orientation and that first day of class on campus due to the coronavirus. Showing them that there’s still purpose to their education and a light at the end of the tunnel can be a huge benefit. Creating and maintaining relationships through texts and emails can lessen the risk of summer melt.