Summer Melt and Delayed Enrollment: Unpacking High School Seniors' College Intentions and Later Decisions
Author(s): Clayton, A. B., Worsham, R. E. & Reavis, G.
Citation: Clayton, A. B., Worsham, R. E. & Reavis, G. (2022). Summer Melt and Delayed Enrollment: Unpacking High School Seniors' College Intentions and Later Decisions. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 34(1), 61-78.
Summer melt occurs when a student who intends to go to college does not enroll in the fall semester after senior year. The purpose of this study was to examine why high school graduates, who in the spring of their senior year of high school had intentions to go to college, did not enroll in college the fall semester immediately after graduation (i.e., melted). Guided by the research questions, we wanted to understand why these students did not enroll in college directly after high school and how they went through the decision-making process. This qualitative study adds to the existing summer melt literature, which is primarily quantitative. Interviews with students who were classified as having "melted" revealed that all but one student were enrolled in college within a year after high school graduation. These findings suggest traditional methods of defining summer melt may lead researchers to overestimate the extent of melt, as most students in this study purposefully delayed enrollment to pursue other opportunities before college (e.g., work, gap year) or to accept spring admission offers.