A common problem for colleges and universities is that not all students who accept an admissions offer actually show up for class on the first day. In higher education, this is called “melt.” Understanding melt is crucial for administrators not only to maintain enrollment numbers, but also to ensure consistent student progression and successful completion of academic objectives.
Maintaining a meaningful connection with students from offer acceptance to the first day of class is key for reducing melt. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to keep prospective students engaged with rich digital content on the topics that are most important to them and that will support their health and wellness during this time.
How melt affects your enrollment numbers
Statistics show that as much as 40 percent of students who accept a school’s offer and put down a deposit never matriculate. Although they may initially be excited about your academic or certification program, any number of things—jobs, financial difficulties, personal issues—can come up and supersede their desire and commitment. Other things become more important and top-of-mind, and your program may fall to the wayside.
Melt in academic programs significantly impacts enrollment numbers. When students fail to begin—or choose to discontinue—their studies, it leads not only to immediate enrollment reductions but also potential long-term effects. A consistent pattern of melt can lead to decreased overall student populations, making it harder for your institution to achieve its budgetary and academic goals.
Reduce melt by mastering student engagement
To keep your program top of mind, staying connected to students in the period following admission is crucial. This doesn’t mean just sending out repetitive emails reminding them about the program. “That’s just white noise,” says CampusWell founder and chief financial officer Tom Piovoso. After the first few messages, students are going to tune out.
Instead, Piovoso says institutions should be sending out content that today’s students are actually interested in and that can help them prepare for and succeed in their studies—and life in general. Physical and mental health, relationships, finances, career success—these are among the most important topics to young adults, and messaging surrounding these topics is going to see much higher engagement rates.
Piovoso says this creates “a longer term symbiotic relationship,” in which the student gets value from admissions communications, rather than the typical marketing communications. “In doing so, you develop this relationship with the student…where this school is more about what’s important to them—health and wellness, student success.”
CampusWell can help boost your enrollment numbers “through the roof”
Engaging content can build a sense of connection to your school by consistently offering value to incoming students—but most universities don’t have the budget or bandwidth to create this content themselves. That’s where CampusWell can help.
Covering eight dimensions of wellness, from physical and mental health to finances and academics, CampusWell’s student-centered and research-backed content is proven to boost engagement with incoming and returning students. Approachable, informative articles and bite-sized videos optimized for mobile can be branded with your school’s logo to send out via email and hosted on a branded web portal directly linked to the school’s main site.
According to Nathan McKelvey, CEO of CampusWell, “What we’re solving is not only health and wellness promotion, it’s really student engagement. Our engagement numbers are through the roof.” When universities put CampusWell content into action, says McKelvey, “they’re going to see a reduction in the melt. They’re going to see how they can use [CampusWell content] for that continued engagement.”
Keeping students engaged through the college life cycle
Melt doesn’t just come from new students. Existing students may also fail to maintain enrollment from year to year. The National Center for Education Statistics found that 18 percent of undergraduate students entering a four-year degree-granting institution in the fall of 2019 did not continue their studies in the fall of 2020. For two-year degree-granting institutions, this figure was even higher, with 39 percent of students failing to return for their second year.
Staying engaged with students at all points in the college life cycle can help reduce these numbers. In a world that is increasingly online, digital content that supports students where and when they need it strengthens the bond between student and institution and, ultimately, helps reduce attrition rates.
CampusWell is a versatile platform that helps make a multi-departmental wellness initiative simple, sustainable, and engaging. Using technology, high quality, research-based content, and proven marketing strategies, together with your existing assets, we deliver a campus-wide wellness platform that will positively impact your students and institution.
Nathan McKelvey, CEO, CampusWell, Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Tom Piovoso, CFO, CampusWell, Marlborough, Massachusetts.
Mintz, Steven. (2022, November 16). What today’s college students need. Inside Higher Ed. https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-gamma/what-today%E2%80%99s-college-students-need
National Center for Education Statistics. (2022). Undergraduate retention and graduation rates. Condition of education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/ctr
NPR. (2021, September 27). The college admissions ‘melt’ down. https://www.npr.org/transcripts/1041011021