Tt is an exciting time of year as our high school graduates prepare for their next journey in life; college.  Many students challenged themselves by taking a rigorous course of study that included Advanced Placement or IB classes as well as four years of math and science.  Many participated in sports, clubs, and donated time at local non-profits to earn community service hours. Senior portfolios were created, SATs were taken, college applications and the FAFSA were completed, and scholarships were applied for all in pursuit of the college or university of choice. Now, all that stands between high school and attending that first college class is a few summer months — summer melt.

Unfortunately, a high number of students who walk across the stage at graduation with plans to go to college never get there. Too many students overlook or struggle to understand the letters and emails colleges send over the summer asking students to complete financial aid forms, turn in health documents, sign up for orientation and more. College counselors have identified this unfortunate event as “Summer Melt,” when students, primarily socioeconomically disadvantaged and first-generation college students, have signed up for a university or community college but do not matriculate. Once removed from the academic setting of their high schools, prospective college students’ motivation to attend college “melts” away.

summer meltOne successful program that assists in encouraging students to stay true to their dream and their plan is their high school’s AVID program. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college readiness program for elementary through higher education students that is aimed at increasing academic achievement of students through targeted instructional strategies. The program focuses on skills that students will need to be successful in college and career. The program places special emphasis on writing and reading skills, critical thinking, teamwork, and organization. AVID is in all of Desert Sands Unified School District middle and high schools and the program continues to grow at the elementary level. AVID programs not only provide academic support to help students prepare for college, but assists students in applying and gaining admission to colleges as well. The concepts used in AVID create a culture of success at the schools and in the minds of students. AVID schools use the techniques first created for college bound students to incorporate skills that also benefit those going directly into the workforce. The school CTE programs (career technical education) also promote the importance of the same critical thinking, teamwork, and academic focus that ensure success all careers.

In 2016, a quantitative study evaluated the relationship of Summer Melt rates of students accepted to colleges and universities who participated in high school AVID programs and who did not. The data indicated that students in AVID experienced Summer Melt less than 13% of the time, compared to students not in the AVID program who experienced Summer Melt over 40% of the time. Data also indicated that there was little correlation with socioeconomic status and Summer Melt; however, there was a greater correlation with an increase in first generation college students who experienced Summer Melt. The results of this research overwhelmingly establish that student participation in the AVID program effectively prepares students to attend college. Other research from AVID also concludes that success in college and persistence in college has higher rates for students who participated in AVID over their peers.

Looking forward to the 2019-2020 school year, are your students participating in AVID? To learn more about the program, click here. And spend the summer encouraging your children to continue to grow toward academic success. Read. Create. Challenge.

Image Sources

  • Young man studying: DSUSD
  • 20190606_214744: DSUSD