Understanding the extent of summer “melt” among college-intending high school graduates

Posted by on August 05, 2013

For low-income students, pitfalls in those final months

A new paper from the Harvard Graduate School of Education describes a phenomenon it calls “Summer Melt” — in which 20 percent of low-income students who at high school graduation say they’re continuing on to college in fact encounter obstacles and don’t attend college in the fall, reports Shankar Vedantam of NPR. Previous research indicates that a sizeable share of low-income students who paid college deposits reconsidered where, and even whether, to enroll in the months following graduation. The study’s authors used data from a national survey and a smaller study focusing on Boston, and found the “melt” was much more likely with students headed for community college versus other institutions. The researchers identified a number of complicating factors. Kids often lack role models and resources. They may be the first of their families to attend college, with peers who are not going: “It’s tough to be making plans to leave when your girlfriend or your boyfriend is staying back home.” Low-income students also seem to have difficulty navigating the considerable paperwork required for financial aid and matriculation. The authors recommend that districts retain guidance counselors for a full 12 months of the year to help low-income students clear these final hurdles.


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