Trying to freeze 'student melt'

It happens every summer. A high-school student accepts a college’s offer of admission and gets excited about attending school in the fall.

But when fall rolls around, the student learns — sometimes too late — that he or she won’t be able to attend because they haven’t filled out or supplied all the necessary paperwork.

Colleges call the phenomenon the “summer melt,” and it poses challenges for schools and students alike.

Based on her 32 years in higher education, Perry Wilson, director of admissions at Florence’s Francis Marion University, said schools face a melt percentage of about 10 percent — that is, one in 10 students tell a college or university they plan in the fall but end up not enrolling.

“You try to plan for that,” Wilson said.

Knowing some students will decide to enroll elsewhere and others will get caught in the summer melt, schools offer acceptance to more students than they expect to enroll. Then they make their best guess on how much on-campus housing to set aside. They also try to set aside enough institutional financial aid in case that melt percentage is a bit lower and more financially needy students show up on campus.

Colleges have a lot at stake as well. Their financial bottom line can melt, too.

Read the complete story at