Summer Melt

It’s summer time! Across the nation thousands of recent high school graduates are enjoying their last summer before their first college semester. They are submitting deposits, selecting courses, packing, and anxiously awaiting their first day. However, a large portion of students from low-income communities will have a very different summer experience. Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, these students will not attend in the fall and will instead “melt” away during the summer.

Graduation CapsThis is called “summer melt”. Nationally about 10 to 20 percent of college eligible students melt away, most of which are low-income minority students planning to enroll in community college. In the Southwest district that includes Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico, 44 percent of students melt away. The melt was 19 percent for four-year institutions and 37 percent for community colleges in 2011. The lower a student’s income, the more likely they are to experience summer melt because they lack the necessary resources and support. This means that we are losing future Latino leaders and innovators over the summer. We cannot allow this to happen.  A higher education is not just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.

This is an important issue for the Latino community because the jobs of the 21st century will require some workforce training or postsecondary education.  As more Latinos graduate from high school every year we need to ensure that they not only access higher education but are prepared to graduate. By 2050 about 30 percent of the US population will be Latino. Also for a majority of low-income minority students, community college is often the selected path to obtain a college degree. So we must address summer melt to increase the number of Latinos earning two and four-year degrees.

This issue can be alleviated via simple measures at home during summer. Parents, speak frequently with your child about college and help them prepare for their fall semester. Encourage them to attend their freshman orientation and encourage them to interact with friends who are enrolled and attending college. Furthermore, encourage your student to remain in contact with school counselors, teachers, and college administrators over summer to ensure that their questions are answered. Students, make sure that you get organized over summer and stay on top of all deadlines. Remember, you are already accepted but you cannot get your college degree if you do not show up.

Alejandra Ceja is the executive director for the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics

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1 Comment

  1. I would like to agree with this statement, “Majority of low-income minority students, community college is often the selected path to obtain a college degree. So we must address summer melt to increase the number of Latinos earning two and four-year degrees”. Before a student make a decision to go to college they really need to know what to expect when it comes to borrowing monies for college. In order to help student retention and academic challenges, we need advisors and/or counselors to be more intense in aiding student in choosing their degree plan and what to do when they fail a course(s) so that they don’t drop out and/or quit .
    As an college instructor teaching in a community college, I find that many student have no clue of what to expect when they arrive to college. For the most part, students make the decision to go to college to find a career and/or a source of income (leftover funds from student loans and/or change check). I have also seen students migrate from state community college to a private college seeking additional monies, only to find that all colleges are guided by the same federal regulations. Many students end up never obtaining their degree, but find themselves reaching the maximum amount of student loan debt for undergrad student. I believe it is time for college (2 and 4 year colleges) to really look at how we should regulate and make sure students have the basic needs such as computors, calculators, and etc. Most colleges have the necessities (labs,library, calculators), however it is not often students cannot take them home.

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