Guest presenters:

  • Jeremy Raff, Coordinator of College & Career Services, School District of Lancaster
  • Christian Granlund, Manager, Puget Sound College and Career Network
  • Karlo Silbiger, Director of College-Going Culture, Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

NCAN host:  Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation, National College Attainment Network

FCAN host:  Kathy McDonald, Assistant Director for Network Partnerships

With summer fast approaching, FCAN hosted an April 15 webinar highlighting several strategies from across the U.S. designed to prevent summer melt and support students’ plans to continue their education beyond high school.

National College Attainment Network (NCAN) defines summer melt as “the phenomenon of college-intending students who have applied to, been accepted by, and made a deposit to a college or university, but fail to matriculate to that college (or any other) in the fall following their high school graduation.”

Bill DeBaun, NCAN’s director of data and evaluation, served as the webinar’s co-host and shared why it is important for district’s nationwide to address summer melt.

“Reducing summer melt is a way of increasing return on investment for all the efforts we put into student success,” DeBaun said. “When students melt over the summer, we see declines in those students’ opportunities, we see them shift away from pathways they would otherwise aspire to, and we are seeing communities miss out on the benefits of their eventual educational attainment.”

The webinar focused on three examples of education stakeholders collaborating with their local community partners to address summer melt:

Facilitating partnerships to prevent summer melt

The Puget Sound College and Career Network (PSCCN) builds regional capacity to increase postsecondary readiness and completion in Washington state’s King and Pierce counties.

“Our wheelhouse is bringing folks together and helping facilitate these partnerships,” said Christian Granlund, PSCCN’s manager. “One of the big challenges with summer melt is that the work doesn’t necessarily belong to the K-12 sector or the college sector, which means our work involved making sure the roles were very clear so that we were able to address the immediate needs of students.”

Last summer, PCSSN partnered with five school districts and six postsecondary institutions to reduce barriers for incoming college students while acknowledging the known and potential impacts of COVID-19 on students and communities of color.

Realizing that many of the students they support were planning to attend some of the same local colleges, PSCCN created several resources designed to help get them get to their campus in the fall:

The resources include one-page summaries of tasks, deadlines, and other information students and their families should know.

Meeting students where they are

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools serves more than 14,000 students at 19 of the most historically underserved schools in the district’s Boyle Heights, South LA, and Watts communities.

Last summer, the Partnership collaborated with four local institutions — two 2-year colleges, and two 4-year universities — and hired two AmeriCorps VISTA college success advisors for its Project GRAD (Get Ready to Achieve your Dreams) summer melt program. The advisors met virtually with students every month and sent out weekly, campus-specific text message reminders.

Karlo Silbiger, director of college-going culture at Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, said that a key message was communicating to the students that they were in this process together and could continue supporting each other once they arrive on a college campus.

“We were only doing our program from the end of May to the end of July, so we had to find a way of creating a community of support amongst the students going to the same college so that they could continue to support each other after our program was done,” Silbiger said.

Using data to analyze summer melt

Dr. Jeremy Raff, coordinator of college and career services for the School District of Lancaster in Pennsylvania, talked about how tricky it can be to measure the impact of summer melt.

“In the past, we would do the year-end surveys where students say they’re going to college, but haven’t filled out a FAFSA or done a lot of the steps they need to do,” Raff said. “So that data wasn’t always very valuable.”

The district teamed with researchers from Franklin & Marshall College to develop a predictive Summer Melt Analysis Tool, which revealed the strongest predictors for students melting over the summer are:

  • Unweighted GPA
  • Attendance
  • FAFSA Completion
  • Enrollment Deposit

Raff said the predictive tool has helped guide the district’s spring advising and summer outreach efforts.

FCAN thanks the following for their generous support of this webinar:


Show Notes

To learn more strategies for helping prevent summer melt — or to view the webinar and download the presentation — take advantage of these resources.

NCAN Summer Melt Resources
NCAN Summer Melt Toolkit

Be sure to visit our Past Webinars page for access to recordings and downloadable material from FCAN’s previous presentations.

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