How to Avoid Summer Melt: 4 Tips for Incoming Freshmen

Tips for Success2 minutes

According to the Strategic Data Project at Harvard University, between 10 and 40% of “college-intending students” don’t enroll in college or career school in the fall after their high school graduation. Some college access experts call this situation “summer melt.” 

Here’s what happens: You complete all the steps needed to enroll in college or career school. The school accepts you. You even apply for financial aid and show that you intend to enroll by paying a deposit. But—for any number of reasons—you don’t enroll in your fall classes. Ultimately, you’re unable to bridge the gap between high school and college.

Avoid summer melt with these four tips.  


Stay in contact with your schools.

High school counselors and college admission officers are aware of summer melt. They understand how the transition from high school to college can be challenging, so they have a stockpile of resources to help. 

Most importantly, they can offer you the guidance you need to alleviate your concerns and issues. For instance, high school counselors can help you understand and complete required paperwork and review financial aid packages. They also have partnerships with local colleges and college access organizations that can provide further support and information.

You can find a list of college access organizations on the Coalition for College’s CCID Registry. The Directory of College Access and Readiness Programs also lists them on the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s website.  


Read all your mail.

Don’t ignore your mail, whether it arrives through the postal service or by email. You want to make sure you’re receiving all your admissions documents and financial aid offers. Neglecting the mail may cause you to miss requests for items like your final high school transcript or health records. 

Your school will notify you about any upcoming deadlines and send information about what you can do to ease your transition to college. In addition, you’ll want to look out for information such as a request to register for summer orientation and schedules for placement tests for subjects like math and English.


Track your activities with a checklist.

You’ll get several messages from your college through the postal service, email, and/or text. Create a checklist to track what you need to do to prepare, and post it on your refrigerator, in your room, or by your home desk. You can also check with your college to see if they have a checklist or find one online, like this checklist from College Board.


Check the status of your financial aid.

Make sure to apply for federal student aid and complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. If you’ve already completed this step, review your award letter and log in to to learn about any additional items you may need to complete.  

Your school’s financial aid office is also a great resource. If you have more specific questions about your aid—such as the ones listed below—your financial aid office can help.

When will I get my money? What’s my school’s FAFSA® deadline? What options do I have if I didn’t get enough aid? Where can I find more scholarships? Are there Federal Work-Study jobs?
5 popular questions only your school’s financial aid office can answer