It’s never been more important to have a strategy in place to reduce melt.
The effect of melt this summer on 2020 enrollment is still unclear. And there is no reliable measure. Even deposits, which are usually a good indicator of how fall enrollment will look, are unreliable this year. According to a poll by Art & Science Group, 12% of students that have deposited say they have now changed their plans.
But, whatever the number, it won’t be something to ignore. According to NACAC, more than 700 schools still have open slots for the Fall – much higher than average for this time of year.
With so much uncertainty, having a strategy in place to reduce melt this summer will be more important than ever. Communicating with your students, recognising their unique circumstances and making up for those missed opportunities will prove essential for institutions.
In this time, you can’t over-communicate
It’s really important that the opportunity to connect with a peer is highlighted across communications. Having the opportunity to speak to someone makes a huge difference and can be the difference between choosing to enroll or defer.
And in 2020, where students have even more questions and concerns, given their current situation, that matters more than ever. And the situation is changing every day.
Regular contact, or at least the opportunity to have regular contact, will help give these students more confidence and a feeling of having more control. And all of us know that when we feel we have control over our decisions, we feel less anxious and more motivated.
Different students will be affected differently
You will know well that every student is an individual, and their unique circumstances will also come with unique challenges. Those individual characteristics are important to be aware of now more than ever.
For your First Gen students, the coronavirus may enhance that feeling of being ‘cut off’ from the school they’re planning to attend. Make sure you are communicating with them, and offering them mentorship and guidance for preparing to enroll in the fall.
A report by Carnegie Dartlet found that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, students from ethnic minority groups and students with disabilities had more concerns about starting college this fall – particularly around their health and wellbeing. Making sure they are empowered with relevant information is essential.
And, of course international students. With travel restrictions still in place, most colleges and analysts are anticipating a very significant drop in the number of international students that choose to enroll come September.
Reduce melt by making up for missed opportunities
You already know that campus tours are important. They have a proven impact on yield and on reducing melt.
By why? There is, of course, a practical element. Students want to see a campus to ensure it meets their expectations and needs. See that the dorms are close to the classrooms, there is study space for everyone, the sports facilities are up to par.
But much more importantly, there is the emotional element. This is what is sometimes called the ‘sense of belonging’ that students gain from these sort of events. It’s about seeing the campus, figuring out whether they can imagine themselves living there. But it’s also about meeting their fellow applicants and prospects, and the current students whose shoes they will fill. The small interactions with a campus tour guide can be essential for developing that sense of belonging.
Make sure you are replacing these key touchpoints with digital alternatives – virtual events (we have a whole blog on top tips for running those), the opportunity to chat with a current student or staff member, student generated content that gives an authentic picture of campus life.