What is Summer Melt?
Every year thousands of students experience the phenomenon of “summer melt” — when college intending high school seniors fail to attend college the following fall. The reasons why students do not make it to postsecondary programs they have been accepted to are diverse, but they are usually related to tasks that a student must complete during the summer between high school completion and college matriculation. These tasks may include paying tuition and obtaining health related records, textbooks, housing and transportation, among others. Because these tasks typically take place during a time when students are no longer connected to high school and have not yet formed relationships with services on their future college campus, students without a personal network to help them navigate college paperwork and processes, finances and other administrative obstacles are often at a loss. For these reasons, we see first generation and low-income students more heavily impacted by summer melt.
Number of Enrolled Students
Number of College-Intending Students
Percent of Students "Melting"
How do We Address Summer Melt?
While summer melt is a significant problem nationally, there is strong work being done to identify and respond to it. PSCCN’s College Transition Checklists, which remind students of the major tasks they need to achieve before they show up on campus in the fall and some optional things to explore and take advantage of, are one way PSCCN is working to respond to information gaps and barriers experienced by students during the transition to postsecondary. PSCCN is also working closely with regional colleges and districts to begin analyzing postsecondary enrollment data to determine to what extent summer melt is an issue in our region in order to develop cross-sector solutions that serve the unique needs of impacted students in King and Pierce counties.