The Summer Before College Can Make or Break Students' Chances of Enrolling

Aug 22, 2014

Litchfield Towers are the main residence halls for University of Pittsburgh Freshmen
Credit Brian Donovan / Flickr

As the Pittsburgh region experiences its yearly rush of returning college students, a number of high school graduates who initially registered will not be moving into the freshmen dorms. 

According to University of Pittsburgh Education Professor Lindsay Page, 10 to 20 percent of the high school graduates who register for college in the spring fail to show up for enrollment in the fall. This is due in large part to unforeseen financial constraints, lack of resources and lack of guidance.

In researching this growing problem, Page looked at enrollment data, and she interviewed career counselors, advisors and students for her forthcoming book Summer Melt: Supporting Low-income Students through the Transition to College

“For some students they may get their tuition bill and be facing costs that they didn’t necessarily anticipate,” said Page “There are a lot of unknowns and challenging processes that students need to navigate over the summer.”

Page calls the situation “summer melt” because of that crucial summer transition period.

“Students are no longer part of their high school community, they’ve graduated. High schools are typically sort of closed up for the summer. But they’re not yet part of their college community. So if they have questions with these various tasks and processes it’s not necessarily obvious to them where they might be able to get support.”

A growing number of resources have been developed to address summer melt, including continued guidance from high school counselors, peer support from college upperclassmen and the financial resource program uAspire.