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 2020 program, 69% of participants in the Bridge to College (B2C) program matriculated to the fall semester, with 63% enrolling at NCC and 4% enrolling at other colleges.
In its third year, B2C continues to evolve and refine its approach towards meeting the needs of Stamford Public School’s diverse senior class.
The 2021 B2C program reached 982 seniors with messaging designed to reinforce and support college intentions. Of the 982 seniors, the number of students receiving additional support increased from 2020 with 117 students this year receiving one-on-one support from one of four school counselors working with the B2C program. The number of students enrolled at NCC increased from 63% in 2020 to 74% in 2021. B2C also implemented a kick-off event to start off the program, college going and skills workshops for participants, and an end of year celebration to recognize participants accomplishments over the summer.