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A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer “Melt” Among College-Intending High School Graduates

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  • Benjamin L. Castleman
  • Lindsay C. Page

Abstract

type="main"> The object of this study was to examine whether college-intending, low-income high school graduates are particularly susceptible to having their postsecondary education plans change, or even fall apart, during the summer after high school graduation. College access research has largely overlooked this time period. Yet, previous research indicates that a sizeable share of low-income students who had paid college deposits reconsidered where, and even whether, to enroll in the months following graduation. We assess the extent to which this phenomenon—commonly referred to as “summer melt”—is broadly generalizable. We employ two data sources, a national survey and administrative data from a large metropolitan area, and regression analysis to estimate the prevalence of summer melt. Our analyses reveal summer melt rates of sizeable magnitude: ranging from 8 to 40 percent. Our results indicate that low-income, college-intending students experience high rates of summer attrition from the college pipeline. Given the goal of improving the flow of low-income students to and through college, it is imperative to investigate how to effectively intervene and mitigate summer melt.

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin L. Castleman & Lindsay C. Page, 2014. "A Trickle or a Torrent? Understanding the Extent of Summer “Melt” Among College-Intending High School Graduates," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(1), pages 202-220, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:95:y:2014:i:1:p:202-220
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ssqu.12032
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
    2. Thomas J. Kane, 2003. "A Quasi-Experimental Estimate of the Impact of Financial Aid on College-Going," NBER Working Papers 9703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lindsay C. Page & Jennifer E. Iriti & Danielle J. Lowry & Aaron M. Anthony, 2019. "The Promise of Place-Based Investment in Postsecondary Access and Success: Investigating the Impact of the Pittsburgh Promise," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 14(4), pages 572-600, Fall.
    2. Avery, Christopher & Castleman, Benjamin L. & Hurwitz, Michael & Long, Bridget Terry & Page, Lindsay C., 2021. "Digital messaging to improve college enrollment and success," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    3. Adam M. Lavecchia & Heidi Liu & Philip Oreopoulos, 2014. "Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities," NBER Working Papers 20609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Page, Lindsay C. & Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2016. "Improving college access in the United States: Barriers and policy responses," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 4-22.
    5. Gershenson, Seth & Hart, Cassandra M. D. & Lindsay, Constance A. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2017. "The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers," IZA Discussion Papers 10630, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Scott Carrell & Bruce Sacerdote, 2017. "Why Do College-Going Interventions Work?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 124-151, July.
    7. French, Robert & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2017. "Behavioral barriers transitioning to college," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 48-63.
    8. Castleman, Benjamin L. & Owen, Laura & Page, Lindsay C., 2015. "Stay late or start early? Experimental evidence on the benefits of college matriculation support from high schools versus colleges," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 168-179.
    9. Iriti, Jennifer & Page, Lindsay C. & Bickel, William E., 2018. "Place-based scholarships: Catalysts for systems reform to improve postsecondary attainment," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 137-148.
    10. Oded Gurantz & Jessica Howell & Michael Hurwitz & Cassandra Larson & Matea Pender & Brooke White, 2021. "A National‐Level Informational Experiment to Promote Enrollment in Selective Colleges," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 40(2), pages 453-479, March.
    11. Alina Martinez & Tamara Linkow & Hannah Miller & Amanda Parsad & Cristofer Price, "undated". "Study of College Transition Messaging in GEAR UP: Impacts on Enrolling and Staying in College," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c6113480c8134325ac685ddd9, Mathematica Policy Research.
    12. Lindsay C. Page & Judith Scott-Clayton, 2015. "Improving College Access in the United States: Barriers and Policy Responses," NBER Working Papers 21781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Ray Franke & Brian Bicknell, 2019. "Taking a Break, or Taking a Class? Examining the Effects of Incentivized Summer Enrollment on Student Persistence," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 60(5), pages 606-635, August.
    14. Seth Gershenson & Cassandra M. D. Hart & Joshua Hyman & Constance A. Lindsay & Nicholas W. Papageorge, 2022. "The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 300-342, November.
    15. Kelli Bird & Benjamin L. Castleman, 2016. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow? Investigating Rates and Patterns of Financial Aid Renewal Among College Freshmen," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(4), pages 395-422, June.
    16. Kelly Ochs Rosinger, 2019. "Can Simplifying Financial Aid Offers Impact College Enrollment and Borrowing? Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 14(4), pages 601-626, Fall.
    17. Karen Jeong Robinson & Josipa Roksa, 2016. "Counselors, Information, and High School College-Going Culture: Inequalities in the College Application Process," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(7), pages 845-868, November.
    18. Christopher Erwin & Melissa Binder & Cynthia Miller & Kate Krause, 2020. "Performance-based aid, enhanced advising, and the income gap in college graduation: Evidence from a randomized controlled trial," Working Papers 2020-06, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    19. Vinas-Forcade, Jennifer & Mels, Cindy & Valcke, Martin & Derluyn, Ilse, 2019. "Beyond academics: Dropout prevention summer school programs in the transition to secondary education," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 1-1.
    20. de Roux, Nicolás & Riehl, Evan, 2022. "Disrupted academic careers: The returns to time off after high school," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C).
    21. Kramer, Dennis A. & Lamb, Christina & Page, Lindsay C., 2021. "The effects of default choice on student loan borrowing: Experimental evidence from a public research university," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 470-489.
    22. Castleman, Benjamin L. & Owen, Laura & Page, Lindsay C., 2016. "Reprint of “Stay late or start early? Experimental evidence on the benefits of college matriculation support from high schools versus colleges”," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 113-124.
    23. Aizat Nurshatayeva & Lindsay C. Page & Carol C. White & Hunter Gehlbach, 2021. "Are Artificially Intelligent Conversational Chatbots Uniformly Effective in Reducing Summer Melt? Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 62(3), pages 392-402, May.

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