An Annotated Bibliography on Summer Melt

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What happens to students between the moment they decide to go to college and the moment they need to submit paperwork, get advised, and enroll to their first college class? What happens to that high school graduate who at the end of the Spring term decided to go to college in the Fall but after being accepted, he doesn't end up going? I posed myself questions like these as I started to think about my research. It turns out that the literature defines this as the Summer Melt. This speaks to the various challenges that students face at the pre-enrollment stage. My research aims to look at how the Summer Melt affect low-income students. In doing the research around this topic, I have found a number of different articles and resources available that explain this complex issue. Furthermore, the literature on this topic appears to be robust and well-documented. Most of the literature points to what high school institutions can do to address this issue but a few good articles point to how colleges in general can respond by integrating and engaging students on campus in effective ways.

In sum, my research hopes to inform about possible areas that are common triggers for Summer Melt to occur such as lack of counseling or financial aid support. Finally, I hope to identify possible effective approaches to implement among minority students. Here are ten resources I've found thus far.


Arnold, K., Fleming, S., DeAnda, M., Castleman, B. & Lynk Wartman, K. (2009). The Summer Flood: The Invisible Gap Among Low-Income Students in Thought & Action. (Fall 2009, pp. 29-34).

This article talks about the bigger picture and how Summer Melt is normally overlooked and unnoticed. It offers key points of understanding to better approach the Summer Melt and support students from low-income backgrounds.

Castleman, B., Page, L., Schooley, K. (2014). The Forgotten Summer: Does the Offer of College Counseling After High School Mitigate Summer Melt Among College-Intending, Low-Income High School Graduates? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 33(2), 320-344.

Similar to a previous article presented by these same authors, this piece offers insights about the importance of counseling after high school graduation. The article looks particularly at how policymakers have overlooked the importance of counseling and how detrimental it can be for students who choose to go to college upon graduation but end up not going in the months prior to enrolling in classes.

Castleman, B., & Page, L. (2014). Summer Melt: Supporting Low-Income Students Through the Transition to College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

In this book, the authors explain the concept of Summer Melt and how it is understood in the literature. Also, the authors focus on strategies and approaches designed to help a particular student population stay in college. In particular, they explain the use of technology in the form of ‘nudges’ to push students towards staying in college. Lastly, the authors speak about the challenges students in this particular group face and how the institution can respond to these.

Castleman, B., Arnold, K., & Lynk Wartman, K. (2012) Stemming the Tide of Summer Melt: An Experimental Study of the Effects of Post-High School Summer Intervention on Low-Income Students’ College Enrollment, Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5:1, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/19345747.2011.618214

In this study, the authors explained the impact that counseling has over during the summer after High School graduation and before college enrollment. The study found that students in the treatment group who received targeted counseling were more likely to persist in their intentions of attending college. The current study can provide sound explanations and a rationale to further explore in this area.

Castleman, B., & Page, L. (2015). Summer nudging: Can personalized text messages and peer mentor outreach increase college going among low-income high school graduates? Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 115, 144-160.

In this article, the authors speak about two particular behavioral approaches to addressing the Summer Melt—the use of a text messaging system and a peer mentoring intervention. The authors speak about the financial aspect when implementing initiatives aimed at addressing the Summer Melt and offer suggestions about how to best approach this with cost-effective strategies. This can be an important addition to the research and development of best practices that institutions can put into place when addressing this larger issue.

Center for Education Policy Research. (2013). SDP Summer Melt Handbook: A Guide to Investigating and Responding to Summer Melt. Boston, MA: Benjamin L. Castleman Lindsay C. Page Ashley L. Snowdon

In this handbook, the authors explain the complexities of the Summer Melt and how it unfolds. Additionally, this handbook is particularly interesting because it offers 5 case studies that provide a rationale for approaching this issue among students.

Daugherty, L. (2012). Summer Link: A Counseling Intervention to Address the Transition from High School to College in a Large Urban District. Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

This study builds off from previous research findings about counseling interventions as a way to address the Summer Melt. It is particularly interesting because the intervention is made at a large urban setting in the Southwest. Additionally, the study looks at students who’ve applied to four-year institutions which may impact the general understanding about why students make a choice of attending a community college versus a four-year institution and how this affects Summer Melt.

Mellow, G. O., & Heelan, C. M. (2015). Minding the dream: the process and practice of the American Community College (2nd ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

The authors inform a lot about my current research topic. Particular chapters that can provide both context and understanding to how Summer Melt unfolds are the ones on developmental studies and on a changed pedagogy. Overall, the authors provide a critical eye to how Community Colleges should educate students as well as the challenges these institutions face when opening the doors. The authors’ approaches can help better understand who the students are and why the Summer Melt originates as well as how it can be addressed.

Page, L. & Gehlbach, H. (2017). How an Artificially Intelligent Virtual Assistant Helps Students Navigate the Road to College. AERA Open, 3(4), 1-12.

This particular study looks at the use of technology and the ways in which this can serve students effectively and help them stay on track by enrolling on time and meeting key pre-enrollment requirements. This study adds an important layer of discussion about the use of technology and the cost implications for institutions. The study takes place at Georgia State University and resulted in 3.3 percentage points more likely for enrolling on time for students who were assigned to the treatment group.

Winkle-Wagner, R., & Locks, A. M. (2013). Diversity and Inclusion on Campus: Supporting Racially and Ethnically Underrepresented Students. Routledge.

The authors here point out critical issues when engaging and welcoming students from minority populations into college campuses. More particularly, it offers theoretical frameworks to better understand effective student engagement. These theories can inform how students enter college and can inform some of the reasons why the Summer Melt can be addressed once students register for their first semester in college.