Summer has become an all too familiar season for higher education marketers. It’s difficult to attract the top talent, but it’s become increasingly challenging to retain students throughout the warmer months. While some students choose to accept and pay a deposit, 10-40% of all college-intending students fall victim to summer melt and never enroll on the first day.

Heading off to college can be an overwhelming milestone for many students – leading to many no-shows on the first day. However, schools have the opportunity to take an active role in summer melt season to retain more accepted students.

Here are four ways your university can start nurturing accepted applicants and diminishing summer melt for this school year:

Create a Social Community for Incoming Students

Today’s younger audiences practically live on social media. That’s why it’s crucial to tailor your marketing strategy to this channel in order to keep summer melt to a minimum. 

Create a social community solely for your incoming student class. By leveraging social features such as Facebook groups, you’ll enable students to share, comment and interact with other students in their class. This is an effective way to encourage engagement amongst students, while also positioning your school as a supporter of their success before they even step foot on campus.

Screenshot of Facebook school group creation page


Build a Summer Melt Campaign

Students that fall victim to summer melt become completely disengaged with the institution they selected. As a marketer, you can prevent this from happening by building a cadence of messages that target your incoming class.

Plan a sequence of engagements on various channels, such as paid or organic social campaigns, email newsletters, or on campus events that highlight your school’s excitement for new students. Keep the messages focused on the incoming students, with content that shows you understand the first day jitters and the reality of leaving home for something new.

With the right messages sent throughout the summer, you’ll retain the interest of incoming students right up until the first day of class.

Maintain Connections with Parents

Parents are more involved in the college process than ever before. They can be a student’s biggest supporter and influencer, so making connections with them from the onset of the search is key to keeping students interested.

As a marketer, you can bring parents into the picture by staying transparent and authentic in your communications with them. Tailor your content to their needs – from financial information to first day guides – and include a parent resource on your website that houses content specific to them. You should also email them directly, with personalized messages and information that will keep them engaged with your school during the summer months.

Related: How to Effectively Market Your College to Parents

By maintaining connections with parents, you’ll encourage them to keep their student on track for the first day of school.

Parent and Family newsletter from Brown


Digitize Your Acceptance Process

Today’s students use screens more than any other generation. In fact, Gen Zers use five screens on average, while the Millennials before them used only three.

Download: Marketing to Gen Z: 7 Strategies to Capture & Retain the Rising Generation

To cater to this increased screen time, digitize the acceptance process. Build an online portal on your school’s website, with quick links to access files that are needed upon acceptance. You should also be sure to include links in your emails rather than attachments. This will prevent them from losing papers that get lost in the mix. By keeping the process digital, they’ll feel more capable of completing everything that’s due.

Berkeley application portal screenshot



The summer season is filled with mixed emotions for accepted college students. It can be exciting but overwhelming, which means it’s crucial that schools ease the process to keep incoming students engaged in the summer months.

From an active social community to a digitized acceptance process, your school will stand out to incoming students and retain them when fall rolls around. 

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Tactics for Fixing Your Funnel: Higher Education Edition