Enrollment offices across the country have unique challenges when it comes to summer melt — factors that are specific to their institutions. Here are five questions Capture Higher Ed recommends asking when considering your university’s distinctive melt situation.
1. What has melt looked like historically at your university?
Understanding the context and backdrop to your melt scenario is critical! If you don’t know what melt has looked like — whether it’s programmatic or geographic or demographic — you need to learn.
2. What strategies have been deployed in the last one to three years and what metrics are in place to determine their effectiveness?
Should you send out another round of invitations to “Accepted Student Day” … or fill in the blank? You know your comm flows. You know the resources you have at your disposal. Try to determine what old direct mail or other materials can be used or repurposed. Make sure you measure what difference they can make.
3. Are there particular audiences that seem to be most impacted by summer melt? First Generation? Particular majors? Geographic markets?
Use your institutional research office to see what the problem spots might be. The scary thing about melt is that we think that the whole incoming class is vulnerable. That’s not necessarily true. There are certain subsets that are highly vulnerable — and then 60 or 70 percent that are coming. You’ve got them locked down as “pretty good.” Spend your time, energy and resources on that other 30 or 40 percent.
4. Are there early indicators for melt? If so, how are they identified?
This needs to be considered highly! Build a rubric of things that will put a student on the at-risk for melt list. Publish it. Keep it fresh and updated. Some of those early indicators provide understanding on how to get in front of melt issues and if they are systemic issues. It’s a great exercise and something that should be done often.
5. What are the “sacred cows” on campus … and are they helpful?
Are there some things being done on your campus that can be done away with? If it’s not working, stop doing it.
You and your colleagues worked hard all year to secure your institution’s incoming group of students. It’s tempting to take a breath and enjoy the moment, but it’s imperative that you keep your foot on the gas and lock down your class.