The temperature in Rhode Island about this time in August soars to a sweltering 90-degree average. It is no surprise that we refer to this time period as the “dog days of summer.” Just stepping outside makes you feel like you are melting like an ice cube on hot concrete. Students on the other hand tend to face a different type of melt, one that beyond high temperatures has the potential to derail college careers before they even get started.
During my time as a college admissions officer, we often knew that several of our deposited students would never end up participating in the first day of class. There were several reasons why students who made a school deposit would never show up on campus. If you were from an affluent background, chances were that you would deposit at several institutions and then make a final decision over the summer. Generally, first-generation, low-income students do not have this option.
For first-generation students, the challenges stem from not being able to afford their tuition to perhaps not having submitted their housing forms on time. These students want to attend college, but have very little support along the way to help make their academic dreams a reality. The long-term impact of not being fully aware of what is required to set foot on a college campus can be devastating.
College Visions is well aware of the melt process and has acted over the course of the last decade to position students for summer enrollment success. So, what is the best way to avoid summer melt? For CV, it is as simple as preparing high school seniors the summer before they graduate high school. Our College Access advisors hold a weeklong program that talks about navigating the application process along with the cost associated with attending a college or university. CV lays out the potential road hazards of not understanding a financial aid package along with the complexity of providing updated forms and transcripts that may be required by the college. Not only do we share these hurdles, but we continually communicate with students on how to avoid them altogether.
One of the biggest reasons for summer melt is that students and parents generally are not fully aware of all of their funding options. As the school year begins, we place a strong emphasis on affordability and grant opportunities. We have discussions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with students and their parents. Along these lines, we help students search for colleges that will meet as close to if not all of their financial needs. Starting this discussion early on helps students and parents weigh their options before summer approaches.
CV Advisors make sure that students are staying on task by continually communicating with them to ensure that final transcripts, housing forms, and orientation forms are completed and submitted on time. Going a step further our CV Advisors will play a liaison role with on-campus offices to ensure that any outstanding items are received. These actions make the melt essentially disappear for our students.
Summer at times can be unforgiving and for a first-generation student, without a guiding hand, it can feel even more so. CV prepares these students with the knowledge and guidance they need to avoid melting during the haze of summer.