Seven Tips to Smooth the Transition from High School to College
The first three years of high school went by quickly and the senior year will also, but it will be more exciting and for many, more emotional too. It is a time of many lasts: last first day of high school, last homecoming game, last prom and of course there will be many good-byes to teachers, classmates and your school. Plus there is also extra added time pressure. You’ve heard it many times, you must submit your college and financial aid applications, additionally you will need to plan for graduation, live up to your other commitments, like part-time work and you also need to maintain your grades throughout senior year. (Remember even early college admissions can be rescinded if grades falter.) Developing a plan or schedule, managing your time and staying motivated are critical steps to overcoming senioritis. If you are focused, it will be far easier to be effective keeping the big picture and your goals to attend college in the fall top of mind.
While focused on your plans for college, stay in the moment too. Enjoy your graduation– celebrate, you’ve accomplished a major milestone. Just don’t lose your momentum after the big day. You’ve heard Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, “an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless impacted by an external force”. Well the key here is to beware of external forces or the phenomenon called “summer melt”.
Summer melt is the term used to describe when students with college plans the spring before graduation do not make it to campus in the fall…their intentions to attend college melt away during the summer before fall admission. The Summer Melt Handbook, published by Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research, estimates 10 to 40 percent of students planning to attend college do not follow through on their plans. The rates tend to be even higher among students from urban districts, low-income families and for those who are the first in their families to attend college. Even if you think summer melt would never happen to you, it is far too common an occurrence to ignore. Better to have a plan and not need than to need it and not have it. You must be diligent, but do not go it alone, enlist your support network (your family, your high school and college resources such as Education is Freedom).
Follow these seven tips to help you stay on track and develop your own Anti-Summer Melt Playbook:
What you, the senior student, can do:
- Sign into your college’s personalized webpage or campus portal, note key dates and take action.
- Register and attend the college’s orientation session (this is mandatory for many schools).
- Complete placement tests if required.
- Check on the status of your financial aid applications and key tuition due dates.
- Complete housing forms.
- Check on your school’s pre-admission vaccination and health insurance requirements.
- Submit any other required paperwork or forms.
- Connect with friends also planning to attend college; form a support group and share important news and resources to assure everyone conquers summer melt.
What your family and friends can do:
- Your family can help you stay motivated and confident by offering praise and support for your ambitions to attend college and they can help remove obstacles that could hamper your success.
- Set aside some time each week to check in with your family; share with family and friends what’s on your mind and ask them to help you come up with solutions to help resolve persistent issues.
- If there are questions your family and friends cannot answer, ask a trusted family member or role model to place an inquiry call to the college’s office of Student Affairs to identify additional aid and resources.
What your high school and your college can do to help and what are the resources that may be available to you:
- Ask a school counselor (college or high school) for assistance and guidance over the summer to answer questions and serve as your accountability coach.
- If your high school or college has a social media (text, email, Facebook or Twitter) program for incoming college freshmen, sign up to have messages delivered directly to your cell phone or email.
You may not have all of these tools available to you, but that’s not a good excuse; leverage the resources you do have. Well timed activities and communications throughout the summer will work wonders to keep you focused and excited to begin college in the fall.