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Programs target crucial summer before college

Lilie Hau, left, the first in her family to attend college, enjoys lunch with Shae-Li Villarreal, another incoming freshman, at a summer bridge program at St. Mary's College in Moraga. (LIV AMES FOR EDSOURCE)

Lilie Hau, left, the first in her family to attend college, enjoys lunch with Shae-Li Villarreal, another incoming freshman, at a summer bridge program at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. (LIV AMES FOR EDSOURCE)

Lilie Hau, 18, of San Francisco, will be the first in her family to go to college this fall. And thanks to an intensive, two-week summer bridge program at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, she feels ready.

Summer bridge programs and other support during the summer after high school graduation can make the difference in whether graduating seniors who plan to go to college actually enroll. Recent national studies by University of Virginia researchers show that from 10 percent to 40 percent of students, depending on the school district, who are intending to go to college never show up. This phenomenon is called “summer melt.” Students from low-income families or who, like Hau, are first-generation college students are the most likely to melt away. The researchers found that at least one in five of these students is not enrolling.

During that critical summer between high school and college, most students are left on their own to make the transition. Their high school counselors are on summer break, and they have yet to meet their college counselors. If their families are unfamiliar with college, they often have no one to help them finalize financial documents, choose housing or pre-register for classes.

“The way higher education systems work, there’s a lot of bureaucracy involved,” said Arianna Morales, program manager of the East Bay College Access Network in Oakland. “Dealing with complex systems can be very daunting.”

Read the full story on EdSource California.

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