Summer Melt

education newsletters parenting Jun 13, 2023
Summer Melt Blog Post Feature

{ICYMI Lindsey shared insightful strategies on how to prepare for and enjoy having your college student home for summer vacation. Click here to read more.}

“Summer melt” is a common phrase used to describe a college-bound student who drops out before ever stepping foot on campus. As per the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 10-20% of students experience this. Why? Consider the layers of this transition. Simultaneous changes to your child’s environment, responsibilities and workload, as well as distance from loved ones play a key role. We will explore ways you can prepare your child for a positive and successful transition into their first year of college and beyond.

Support their environment

Swapping the comfort of home for an unknown environment is sure to leave some students with feelings of uncertainty. Dormitories don't tend to evoke a warm and homey atmosphere. The thought of shared spaces and being surrounded by strangers can be unnerving to some. In order to support your child, don’t wait until the last minute to help them pack, purchase or organize their belongings for school. This will alleviate unnecessary stress. There are many key life skills that can be taught during this process. As overwhelmed as you may feel too, try to enjoy this opportunity for bonding before they leave the nest.

  1. Organize boxes based on items (i.e. toiletries, cleaning supplies, desk materials, food items and clothes). This little step will go a long way during the unpacking process. It will also provide your child with a framework or example of how to organize their materials in their new space.
  2. Pack comfort items. Having a small piece of home can help your child with the transition, especially when nerves are at an all time high (i.e. favorite blanket, pillow or pictures). This will help make their new space feel a little bit like “home”.
  3. Encourage your child to connect with friends who are also preparing for college or may be attending the same university throughout the summer.
  4. Explore the school’s amenities. This could include checking out classes offered at the gym, tutoring opportunities, or clubs of interest.

Address the distance

Whether your recent grad is ten minutes from home or ten hours, the distance can be unsettling. Be sure to make a plan with your child about holidays, visits and emergencies. Consider printing out their school calendar and make a note of the times that they will come home for an extended stay. A great starting point is determining the fall, winter, and spring break dates. Talk to your child about how they will travel. Will they drive their car or will a family member pick them up? If a bus, train or plane travel is necessary, discuss those details as well. If you or someone else plans to visit, consider adding those dates to their calendar. In case of an emergency, ensure you have a conversation about who they can contact. For example, maybe there is a family member who lives closer and can respond immediately should the need arise.

Account for new responsibilities

With independence comes responsibility. Believe it or not, your young adult may feel overwhelmed by the list of responsibilities that is soon to accompany their new found freedom. The range of expectations from home to home can vary greatly. Even if your child is used to doing their own laundry or preparing meals, they are sure to experience a new responsibility when they settle in at school. Consider purchasing a planner or a to-do notepad for your child and help them organize their daily responsibilities.

  1. Look at class schedules and times. This will help plan opportunities for down time, meals, etc.
  2. Alternate chore days (i.e. monday=laundry and wednesday=cleaning room)
  3. Add time for self care. This may look like going to the gym, calling a friend or family member or taking a nap.
  4. Add a monthly virtual family meeting or check-in to the calendar. This will provide your child with a safe space where they can discuss any challenges they may be experiencing. Encourage them to share accomplishments and proud moments. A “team” perspective will maintain a positive and collaborative approach to solving problems, no matter the size.

This may seem over the top, but providing your child with this tool is sure to guide them as they adjust to their new environment. Remember, your child will be managing a living space and preparing meals while excelling in school and maintaining a social life.

Whether your child is taking out student loans or you are in the position to assist them financially, the price of higher education is costly and not to be taken lightly. ThinkImpact reported that 30% of college freshmen drop out within or after their first year. Not only will these strategies be key in preparation, they will contribute to their lifelong ability to cope with new experiences. As your child invests in their future, ensure they have the appropriate tools and supports to navigate each twist and turn along the way. 


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