The Summer Melt is Real But These Resources Can Help You Overcome It


Although the summer melt is a real problem, there are resources that can help you overcome it. If you're planning on attending college in the fall but worry that something might derail your plans, the resources highlighted in this post can keep you on track and help you avoid the summer melt.

The Summer Melt

Being accepted to college is an exciting moment that can make you feel like you're ready to take on the world. You might even feel as though nothing can get in the way of your future as a college student. However, statistics published in a Harvard University handbook show that approximately 10% to 40% of students who fully intend on going to college in the fall never actually enroll. Instead, they just ''melt away'' for a variety of reasons; hence the term ''summer melt.'' And while all types of students may fall victim to the summer melt, those from families with low-to-moderate incomes may be more likely to be affected.

Whether students melt away due to financial reasons, lack of guidance or support, family issues or some other unexpected challenge, the summer melt phenomenon is real—and troubling. However, the following resources can provide you with a way to head off a meltdown and ''stay cool'' in the months leading up to college.

cheerful college students outdoors

College Counselors & Academic Advisors

No matter what you do in life, it's good to have a support system. Unfortunately, many college-bound students don't have the proper support to help guide them during the crucial transition from high school to college, which can definitely contribute to the summer melt. That's where college counselors and academic advisors come in handy.

These professionals can help you:

  • Choose an educational path based on your personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify any personal issues and obstacles to your college path
  • Understand any other college-related aspects you may be confused about

While college counselors and academic advisors are typically on hand to help at institutions everywhere, you must make it a point to reach out for assistance. In other words, they won't know you need help if you don't contact them.

college student and counselor

Financial Aid

Financial limitations are another common cause of the summer melt, and it's easy to see why. If you can't afford all of the expenses associated with college (tuition, housing, books, supplies, etc.), how on earth will you be able to attend? Well, that's why financial aid is so important!

If you're planning to attend college in the fall, chances are you've already filled out the FAFSA form, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, during your senior year of high school. This application uses detailed financial information (from either you and/or your family) to determine your eligibility for the different types of aid, which include:

  • Loans that must be repaid to the lender (typically after college graduation)
  • Scholarships and grants that don't require repayment

By the summer, you should have a good idea as to how much and what types of financial aid you'll be receiving for college in the fall. In order to follow through with your college plans, however, you'll need to a) identify how much money you'll still be required to pay after financial aid, and b) figure out how you're going to pay for it.

Additionally, it might be a good idea to organize a list of possible grants and scholarships, along with their application deadlines, that you may be able to put toward future years of college. For example, some grants and scholarships may be specifically for college sophomores, while others may be geared toward upperclassmen. Staying on top of the financial portion of the college equation can help you feel more prepared for the future and may reduce the chances of a summer melt.

college financial aid application

Information & Support Resources

There are also some other resources that can help you overcome the summer melt and keep you on track to attend college in the fall. For example:

  • College websites can put you in touch with specific departments (think counseling and financial aid) and provide you with detailed information about the campus and school offerings. If you don't have Internet access at home, check out your local library; most offer access to computers and the Internet.
  • Mentors who have already gone to college can be very helpful. If you have a certain friend, coach, teacher or family member who has experience with the college process, don't be afraid to ask for their help and advice. Chances are they would love to assist you at such a positive, life-changing time.
  • Campus visits can be a great way to familiarize yourself with a college and make sure it's right for you, which can boost your confidence.

college student outside with backpack

You Can Overcome the Summer Melt

Now that you've explored some resources that can help you overcome the summer melt, we hope you feel confident and secure knowing that support definitely exists. By utilizing these resources and keeping your sights set on attending college in the fall, you can avoid the dreaded summer melt.

Would you like some help planning for college? Be sure to check out's Guide to College Planning course today!

By Erin Riskey
June 2018
college college success

Never miss an update