Caroline Doglio, National College Attainment Network
As the school year comes to a close, seniors will be out of the door and moving onto their next step. Each year, an estimated 10-40% of high school seniors with every intention of enrolling in college do not actually matriculate. While NCAN has plenty of resources that can help perform early intervention to prevent summer melt, we also know that every effort counts.
With that in mind, there are a few final ways that districts, schools, and college access organizations can best support their students during this life transition.
Senior Exit Survey
The first step to support seniors is by performing a senior exit survey. This is a simple and effective way to collect the most up-to-date contact information and a student’s next steps in order to tailor support throughout the summer.
Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research created a Summer Melt Handbook that includes a guide for what questions to include in a senior exit survey. They suggest administering the survey as close to graduation as possible in order to get the most accurate information.
While it is important to make sure that the senior exit survey fits the needs of your students, there is likely no need to create an entirely new senior exit survey. Consider adapting exit surveys from previous years or using an existing template.
For exit survey inspiration, visit the NCAN guide to immediate next steps for graduating seniors or see the examples below.
It’s best to administer the survey electronically to make the most of the results immediately. Once you identify high-attendance institutions to which your students intend to matriculate, you could potentially make a transition cheat sheet.
Transition Cheat Sheets
Transition cheat sheets are a quick and easy way to ensure students have accurate information about the next steps at highly attended colleges. The simple one-pager should be full of information on upcoming tasks, deadlines, contact information, and anything else that could help a student throughout the transition.
NCAN member Puget Sound College and Career Network has created these same cheat sheets for their students, and they serve as a great example.
All of their checklists are neatly divided into sections on what to do before coming to campus:
- Finish the financial aid process
- Complete testing or send transcripts
- Register for orientation
- Register for classes
- Find transportation
- Pay tuition
- Find supports and community
Once all this information is compiled, decide how you want to stay in contact with the students. Many organizations find that text messaging is the most effective way to reach young people.
Reaching Students Over the Summer
Consider using texting to encourage your graduating seniors to take action over the summer. This is an opportunity to inform students of necessary pre-enrollment tasks that they might not be aware of.
As your organization is finalizing your plans to support your seniors, don’t forget to take advantage of the resources that are already available to you. Be sure to check out NCAN’s Summer Melt Toolkit and our K-12 Advising Calendar.