Summer Melt Strategies

Student Engagement Strategies to Reduce Summer Melt

5 min read

It’s not difficult to understand why a student may melt when you consider their perspective on the enrollment process. Student melt refers to prospective college students who choose to attend a college, apply, make a deposit, and then change their mind. 

Finances, confusion over processes, and lack of engagement with an institution are among the biggest reasons a student will decide not to attend classes in the fall. 

Here are student engagement strategies you can use to reduce melt at your school.


Communicate Early and Often

The vast majority of high school students are deciding between two to three colleges, and they’ll likely choose the one that has established the strongest relationship with them. Students may have deposited at multiple schools, still contemplating which one is the best fit for them. The commitment of their deposit is only rock solid if you continue to guide students and communicate with them throughout the entire enrollment cycle.


How Much is “Often?”

You’ll need to communicate with prospective students to get them to the finish line, but you don’t want to burn a bridge by sending too many messages. Whether you’re using email, text messaging, etc., messages that are helpful will be gladly accepted. So, before you hit send on a text, ask yourself if the person on the other end will be thankful to receive it.

Cross-department communication is important in maintaining a manageable number of outgoing messages to students. Be sure you consider other campus department’s communication plans when determining the best time to send communications. This will limit the amount of texts and emails a student might receive in one day from your institution.


Identify Warning Signs and Be Proactive

When a student has completed an early step of enrollment, but failed to follow-up on other deadlines, that’s a sign that melt is possible. Pay attention to large gaps between due dates and responses.

Their lack in completing tasks may stem from not understanding complex processes, like financial aid. This complex and stressful process can cause many students to reconsider enrollment, and more and more students are finding financial aid verification as a major roadblock to attending college.

If you’re able to identify which students have been selected for that process, be proactive and reach out to them to see if they need help. Don’t relay on just sending a link to the FASFA and leaving students to complete it on their own, because you’ll you’ll find the completion rate is not as high as if you supply them with instructions on how to do so. A video tutorial is an easy and effective way to guide students through this important step.  

💡 TIP: Finances is the number one cause of student melt. The best way to ease a student’s mind of financial worries is to clear confusion and make them aware of all the resources available to them, especially for first-generation students who are navigating the enrollment process without assistance. The more guidance you provide during the registration process, you better the chances they register for and attend classes at your institution.


Connect Students with Their Major

A first-hand perspective is a powerful influence. Introduce prospective students to a faculty member, alum, or current student in the major they’ve shown interest in. For example, if a prospective student is interested in criminal justice, get them in touch with a student from the program who can answer specific questions, explain the course load, and share what opportunities lie ahead.

💡 TIP: Have current students or alumni text new students once they’ve been accepted to establish another connection to your institution. This is a very effective way to keep students engaged over the summer. 


Involve Parents

Parents and guardians are the first people students will turn to for help,so it makes sense to include them in the enrollment process. With an open line of communication, you can let parents know what is expected so they can guide students and discover any pain points. The earlier you can involve parents in the process, the better.

 💡 TIP: Encourage parents to check-in with their children at certain intervals throughout the process to ensure they’re on track to meet deadlines. Many schools send a calendar link specifically for families to establish all of the steps that need to be ascended. 


Provide Support As Much As Possible

Letting prospective students know you are there to support them as much as possible is key to helping students navigate the complex process of enrolling in college.There is not one, all-encompassing way to explain every step of the enrollment process, and not every case of melt is preventable. Creating and fostering a relationship with your incoming class requires work, but the benefits are many. The more they know, the less they melt.

Mongoose’s Greg Bauch and Mike Kochczynski discussed reducing summer melt with well-known higher ed consultant, Bob Johnson, in a recent For Your Institution (FYI) Live event. Listen or watch the full episode below.

Want to join Greg and Mike live for the next FYI? Register here





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