Putting a Stop to the Summer Melt
The term summer melt is used to describe graduating high school seniors who are college intending but who fail to enroll in college come fall.
The Center for Education Policy Research’s Strategic Data Project (SDP) at Harvard University released a report and toolkit in 2017 that further detailed this phenomenon along with resources to reduce summer melt.
Looking at the Numbers
The SDP found that summer melt most often impacts low-income students and can affect anywhere from 10% to 40% of a graduating class1.
In 2018, 37% of Stamford Public School (SPS) graduates intending to attend Norwalk Community College (NCC) failed to matriculate in the fall.
Knowing that NCC is a school where many low-income and first-generation students enroll, this outcome highlighted not only the disparity in outcomes, but the dearth in programming available to help students, particularly first-generation students, bridge the gap between high school graduation and college enrollment.
Finding a Solution
To reduce the 37% melt rate among NCC intending SPS graduates, Stamford Cradle to Career, in partnership with Stamford Public Schools, Norwalk Community College, and Stamford Public Education Foundation, collaborated to launch the pilot Bridge to College (B2C) program with 2019’s class of seniors.
Focusing on self-identified first-generation students intending to attend Norwalk Community College, and any other NCC intending student interested in the support, the program sought to ensure that 75% of students enrolled matriculated to NCC in the fall.
After reviewing the data at the end of the 2019 program, 69% of participants in the Bridge to College program matriculated to the fall semester, with 65% enrolling at NCC and 4% enrolling at other colleges.
Further evaluating the outcomes from the pilot summer melt program, Stamford Cradle to Career (SC2C) and implementing partner Stamford Public Schools (SPS) decided to expand the scope of the program using a model like the one highlighted by the Strategic Data Project.
The 2020 B2C program not only reached more students with messaging designed to reinforce and support college intentions, it more than doubled the number of students receiving ongoing direct support to promote a successful bridge from summer to fall.