Don\’t let the summer heat steer you away from College



Summer orientations can familiarize freshmen students with the colleges and universities they plan to attend, introduce them to activities in which they might participate and clubs and organizations they might join. In meeting with faculty and staff members and touring campuses with their children, parents might feel a greater sense of relief as they progress toward becoming “empty nesters.”

Summer orientations weren\’t as common when baby boomers went to college, their parents essentially dropping them off at campus and heading back home. Parents these days share their experiences, offer advice on dealing with empty nest syndrome. They learn about everything rom campus safety and drinking and illegal drugs to modern technologies and campus efforts toward going green.

The events offer hidden benefits to colleges and universities and, ultimately, society as well: They\’re designed, in part, to help to “lock in” students who otherwise might not enroll – and, often, students who become lost to what\’s known as the “summer melt” in higher education are also among those who might benefit the most from it.

The “summer melt” is a time when men and women who plan to begin fall semester studies at a particular institution for one reason or another “disappear.” The lower a student\’s family income, Harvard University researchers recently discovered, the more likely they were to melt. Community colleges that tend to enroll more low-income and minority students reportedly take the hardest summer melt hits, losing 37 percent of their students as compared with nearly half that amount that four-year colleges and universities do.

Here\’s what the Harvard researchers found makes students more likely to enroll in the fall semester:

  • Frequent conversations with parents about college
  • Having a lot of friends who plan to enroll

A recent article in the State Newspaper in South Carolina recommended that students and families discuss their finances and that parents help students learn to save what they earn. High schools counselors who have established relationships with students, the Harvard researchers contend, might also keep in touch with them through social networking – intervening where they suspect a potential “melt.” Intervention studies are scheduled this summer in Fort Worth, Tex., Boston, Mass., and Fulton County, Ga., according to an article in Inside Higher Education.