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Summer Melt in College Students: Home

January 22, 2023

Definition of Summer Melt

It’s summer time! Across the nation thousands of recent high school graduates are enjoying their last summer before their first college semester. They are submitting deposits, selecting courses, packing, and anxiously awaiting their first day. However, a large portion of students from low-income communities will have a very different summer experience. Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, these students will not attend in the fall and will instead “melt” away during the summer.

This is called “summer melt”. Nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt away, most of which are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college. In the Southwest district that includes Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, 44 percent of students melt away. The melt was 19 percent for four-year institutions and 37 percent for community colleges in 2011. The lower a student’s income, the more likely they are to experience summer melt because they lack the necessary resources and support. This means that we are losing future Latino leaders and innovators over the summer. We cannot allow this to happen.  A higher education is not just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.

Source: US Department of Education:

Articles, Studies and Webpages on Summer Melt

SDP Summer Melt Handbook: A Guide to Investigating and Responding to Summer Melt, Harvard University 

Avery, C., Howell, J. S., & Page, L. (2014). A Review of the Role of College Counseling, Coaching, and Mentoring on Students' Postsecondary Outcomes. Research Brief. College Board.

Basko, A. (2022). How to solve the mystery of Summer Melt. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2014). A trickle or a torrent? Understanding the extent of summer “melt” among college intending high school graduates. Social Science Quarterly, 95, 202-220.

Castleman, B. L., Page, L. C., & Schooley, K. (2014). The forgotten summer: Does the offer of college counseling after high school mitigate summer melt among college‐intending, low‐income high school graduates? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(2), 320-344,

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2013). The not‐so‐lazy days of summer: Experimental interventions to increase college entry among low‐income high school graduates. New directions for youth development, 2013(140), 77-97,

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2015). Summer nudging: Can personalized text messages and peer mentor outreach increase college going among low-income high school graduates? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 115, 144-160,

Cost, emotional stress leading to enrollment challenges at colleges, study finds | EdSource,

#DontMeltNC: Ultimate Guide to Summer Melt | Carolina College Advising Corps (,

EAB Targeted Yield-Performance Turnarounds White Paper. Retrieved from

Emerson, J (2022) Top Tips for College Counselors on Beating Summer Melt, University of South Florida 

Inside Track (2022) East Carolina University Student Journey Map. Consultant Report, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. Retrieved from

National College Attainment Network, Summer Melt Resources. Retrieved from

Robinson, K. J., & Roksa, J. (2016). Counselors, information, and high school college-going culture: Inequalities in the college application process. Research in Higher Education, 57(7), 845-868.

Oster, M. (2021). College Dreams Dissolved.

Owen, L., Poynton, T. A., & Moore, R. (2020). Student preferences for college and career information. Journal of College Access, 5(1), 7.

Page, L. C., & Gehlbach, H. (2017). How an artificially intelligent virtual assistant helps students navigate the road to college. AERA Open, 3(4), 2332858417749220,

Sanchez, I. M. (2021). Schools Can Stop Summer Melt: Lessons Learned from the Wisconsin Text Steps Project. National College Attainment Network.

“Summer melt” was bad during the pandemic, experts fear it could get worse (,

Stopping Summer Melt Starts in the Spring, Monday, April 5, 2021, Posted by: Ainsley Ash, Communications Intern, National College Attainment Network,

Tackett, Wendy L.; Pasatta, Kelley; and Pauken, Evan (2018). "Lessons Learned from a Summer Melt Prevention Program," Journal of College Access: Vol. 4: Iss. 1, Article 5. Retrieved from

Taylor, Z. W. (2020). Optimizing Away Summer Melt: How Search Engine Optimization May Reduce Summer Melt at Highly Ranked US Institutions of Higher Education. Forthcoming in Strategic Enrollment Management Quarterly,

Wang, H., Zhou, Y., and King, B. (2021). College Choice in the Middle of a Pandemic – a Study of Summer Melt. Paper presented at the 2021 Student Success Conference, online. Retrieved from

Wang, H. & Zhou, Y. (2020). An Analysis of ECU’s Accepted Students: Who joined the Pirate Nation? Who didn’t and where did they go? Paper presented at the 2020 Student Success Conference, Greenville, NC. Retrieved from

What the Research Says About Summer Melt, educationnorthwest,

Books on Summer Melt

Castleman, B. L., & Page, L. C. (2014). Summer melt: Supporting low-income students through the transition to college. Harvard Education Press. Book:, Amazon link:, Harvard Education Press:

Videos on Summer Melt

College Bound? Avoid Summer Melt!, EducationQuest,

I'm First! Summer Melt Video Series Introduction, I'm First,

Stopping Summer Melt, Tennessee SCORE,

Summer Melt Prevention: How Programs and Colleges Can Work Together, CaStudentAid,

What's 'summer melt,' and how can you avoid it?, Spokane Public Schools,

What is summer melt? EdNC Explains, EducationNC,

Director, Pirate Academic Success Center, ECU

Elizabeth Coghill, Ed.D
NCLCA Lifetime Learning Center Leadership Certification
Past-President, Southeastern College Learning Center Association

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