They drop at a rate of 10 to 40 percent across the nation – freshmen who have committed to attending in the fall, but then never show. The phenomenon known as “summer melt” is thought to be a result of accepted students feeling anxious about college costs and social changes, as well as encountering barriers in the enrollment process.
Whatever the reason, summer melt is an enrollment-busting paradox and the bane of higher education admissions departments.
A shift in marketing strategy after students are accepted helps to cool summer melt. Some colleges and universities that have employed a social media strategy focused on accepted students have found a way to get more students into the classroom on the first day of school.
Why do students melt?
Students melt for a number of reasons, but the majority fall through cracks because the support and guidance they received in the college-application process from their high school is no longer there once they graduate. They have a great degree of social anxiety about fitting in and being liked. They have no experience in making a move to a new area. And they often struggle with the mechanics of pre-enrollment deadlines, like financial aid and class registration. Feeling alone and unsure, students can simply stall out in their process of enrolling.
Preventing summer melt with social media.
Admissions departments are finding social media a great help in shifting their marketing focus from selling the school to encouraging enrollment. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow admissions to really understand what accepted students are concerned about and then to reach those students in a timely manner via a channel they are comfortable with. An effective social media strategy to stem summer melt revolves around three goals: listening, connecting and promoting.
Social media is no longer presumed to be an online distraction or venue for the self-obsessed. Social media is a respected and essential tool that colleges and universities can use to distribute news and information, monitor for questions and concerns, and provide a forum for students to gather in as a new virtual quad.
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