How to Avoid Summer Melt: A Parent’s Toolkit

3.16.21 How to Avoid the Summer Melt

So often, a student will apply for college and enroll in classes, but decide that college just “isn’t for them” over the summer months. Maybe they have found a parttime job that is fun and intriguing; maybe they are reconsidering their financial situation. Whatever the reason, they have decided they aren’t college material. As a parent, what can you do to encourage your kids that school is the right choice?  

What is Summer Melt?  

The term “summer melt” refers to students who have graduated from high school with plans to go to college in the fall, but reconsider their plans over the summer. The change of heart could happen for a lot of different reasons: they may question their career path and whether college is the right choice for them. They may question whether they have enough financial aid to make it feasible to attend school. They may just convince themselves that they aren’t the right fit for college.  

As a parent, you know that earning a college degree will help them earn more in the long run, and will set them up for future success. But, you also know that college has to be their decision. How do you encourage and empower them to attend class in the fall?  

College is Possible for All 

The first thing you want to do is instill the idea that college is definitely attainable for everyone. It will involve hard work and diligence, yes, but your son or daughter can achieve a degree. Don’t let your favorite student become disenfranchised. Remind them that college doesn’t have to automatically mean a four-year degree. Many students are more successful starting at a community college and either transferring to a college or university or simply heading straight to a career. Either is possible with the right program. Remind your student that not all college classes equal 300-person lecture halls; many college classes encourage you to get hands-on and prepare for a career.  

Contact College Counselors 

If your student is apprehensive about their courses, suggest they speak with their college counselors. They are there to answer questions and help your son or daughter find the right path. They want to see each student reach their goals, and can help make schedule adjustments to ensure that each student is successful.  

Review Financial Aid 

Now, more than ever, students are conscious of college costs. Remind your favorite student that college is a means to an end, and will help them achieve long-term success. Talk to them about scholarships, work-study programs, and ways to diffuse the total cost of tuition. (Our financial aid team drafted a list of things that students should know – use when you talk about financial aid with your student to make the conversation easier.) Remind them that starting at a community college could help cut their expenses and make college much more affordable in the long run. If the overall costs are still making them think twice, highlight several programs that students can study for free through the Last Dollar Scholar program 

Suggest Internships and Job Shadows 

Often, students don’t know what it will take to be successful in the careers they want to pursue. If your son or daughter is considering a career, suggest they talk to a professional in the field who can answer questions and talk to them about their day-to-day and what it took to get to where they are today.  

Consider a Gap Year 

If your son or daughter is still not confident that college is right for them, consider suggesting they take a year off between their high school graduation and starting a college program. Gap years can be used to explore their interests, work full time, volunteer, or travel. They should be used for self-reflection and should give students an inside look at how their future could look. This isn’t a year to slack off and play video games; your student should use this year to work towards future plans. The goal is to come back more focused and ready to study.  


Conversations about summer melt can be tricky for parents, but we’re here to help. We have a team of people to help at both Ellsworth and Marshalltown – we are here to make the transition from high school to college easy!