With summer in full swing, many high school graduates across the country are breathing a sigh of relief – they’ve earned their diplomas, received college acceptances, and enrolled at their postsecondary program of choice. But even as many are taking a well-earned break from academic work, the summer period is a crucial time for rising college students to make sure they stay on track to start in the fall.
The U.S. Department of Education reports that 10 to 20 percent of college-eligible students give up on college during the summer before they are set to matriculate. Most of these are low-income students of color who experience a lack of resources to prepare for enrollment. This phenomenon is known as “summer melt.”
Luckily, there are certain key steps that every incoming college student can take to avoid summer melt and prepare for the start of school. Here’s a checklist of the top 5 things to do to make sure you complete all requirements and stay motivated ahead of your first semester:
1) Connect with fellow college-going students
Even though you’re not on campus yet, summer is a great time to begin forming connections with classmates. Many incoming freshmen classes have Facebook groups, GroupMe chats, or other online platforms for students to introduce themselves, search for roommates, find like-minded friends, and ask questions. Contacting current students or alumni can also be a great way to get your questions answered and learn more about the college experience from someone who has experienced it first-hand. Don’t forget to keep in contact with friends from home who are going through the same transition as you– you can keep each other motivated and hold each other accountable as you move into the next chapter!
2) Get in touch with mentors old and new
As you say goodbye to your high school days, don’t forget to show appreciation for the mentors who helped you get to where you are. A great way to do this is by writing thank you notes to the teachers who wrote your college recommendations, the counselors who gave you valuable application advice, and anyone else who was an important part of your educational journey.
Not only are these mentors going to continue to cheer you on, you also have a team of people at your college eager to facilitate your transition. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your new academic advisors, directors of student life, and any other staff who are there to support you.
3) Stay on top of your college’s enrollment requirements
Chances are your college has a checklist of requirements for you to complete with deadlines throughout the summer. Don’t ignore it! Make a plan and set reminders for yourself to complete these requirements on time so that you don’t have any trouble enrolling in the fall. Most colleges require proof of certain immunizations, for instance – give yourself the time you need to make sure your records are up to date and submitted.
To ensure that you get off on the right foot with classes that are relevant to your field of study and check off some distribution requirements, put fall course enrollment in your calendar and select your classes as soon as they open (and don’t forget to check course reviews). You’ll thank yourself for it later!
4) Make sure you have a financial plan
Now is the time to make sure all your financial aid forms are submitted and plan to pay your first tuition deposit by the deadline. If campus employment is a part of your financial plan for college, take a look at job listings before arriving on campus and apply as soon as they open.
5) Make a shopping list
Once you know what your accommodations will look like in the fall, get to work making a list of items you’ll need to purchase or bring with you. If you’re staying at home, the bulk of your list may be school supplies – pens and pencils, notebooks, textbooks, and any electronics you’ll need to complete your work. If you’re moving into a dorm, an additional list of essentials like linens, clothing, etc. will help you get settled in quickly. Make sure you know what furniture and appliances will be available in your building and plan accordingly.
We hope you have an incredible start to your first year of college, Class of 2022!