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 percent of “college-intending students” don’t enroll in college in the Fall after their high school graduation. Students from low-income backgrounds are even more likely to part ways.  It’s a phenomenon known as “summer melt.” 

Here’s what happens. You complete all the steps needed to enroll in college. The college accepts you. You even apply for financial aid and give the impression that you intend to enroll by paying a deposit. However, you don’t enroll in your Fall classes. Ultimately, you fail to bridge the gap between high school and college.  

Avoid “summer melt” with the following four tips.  


Stay in contact with your schools.

High school counselors and college admission officers are aware of “summer melt” phenomenon. 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 webpage. 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.

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Mail Time!

Don’t ignore mail that either arrives from the postal service or by email. You want to make sure you are receiving all your admissions documents and financial aid offers to secure your college attendance.  Neglecting the mail may cause you to miss requests for items like your final high school transcript or health records. 

Your school will send information detailing the activities it requires and recommends to ease your transition to college and notify you of any upcoming deadlines. In addition, you will want to look out for information like a request to register for summer orientation and schedules for placement tests for subjects like Math and English.

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Add college’s email address to your contact s to make sur no communication ends up in your spam folder.


Track your activities with a checklist.

You will receive several messages from your college whether it’s through the postal service, email, or text. So, create a checklist that you can post 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 use one online like this one from College Board.  

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College Prep Checklist


Check the status of your financial aid.

Make sure to apply for federal financial aid and complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. If you completed this step, review your award letter and log onto your account at with your FSA ID username and password to learn about any additional items you may need to complete.  

Also, contact the financial aid office at the schools you listed on your FAFSA form to ensure the institution received your financial aid documents. Double checking supports your efforts to secure both federal  and institutional aid.

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5 popular questions: Your school’s financial aid office can answer (not the FAFSA® people)