Six Actions Educators Can Take Right Now to Support High School Seniors’ Transition
The following six actions have been adapted from the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) Immediate Next Steps guide for supporting high school seniors’ transition to a postsecondary educational program. Take the following actions to prevent summer melt and ensure that the high school class of 2020 enrolls at their postsecondary program in the fall.
1. Conduct a senior exit survey before graduation
To help students succeed after high school, understand where they are now and what they need next. The information gathered will be helpful in shaping the supports seniors receive between now and graduation.
Download the Texas OnCourse Exit Survey Template. Share the results with your colleagues.
2. Follow up on FAFSA/TASFA completion
Financial aid application completions by the high school class of 2020 have sharply declined. Encouraging students to complete their FAFSA or TASFA can support their decision to matriculate to a college, university, or credentialing program if they choose to make that decision later.
- Connect with your school’s lead counselor for a list of students who are FAFSA/TASFA incomplete from the ApplyTexas Counselor Suite. Based on this list and the exit survey results, follow up with students who haven’t submitted or completed an application. Ask specifically to walk them through submission.
- Watch Filling Out the 2020–21 FAFSA for Dependent Students from Get2College to prepare to support students completing an application.
- If students need support on verification, the following are some of the usual documents requested by colleges. Encourage students to contact the financial aid office for guidance on securely submitting these electronically, if applicable:
- Tax transcript (available online at www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript)
- Proof of citizenship
- Documentation of legal guardianship (if applicable)
- Institutional forms found on the student’s college portal
3. Decode financial aid offers and compare costs
For students to make the best postsecondary decision, they need guidance about what their financial aid offers actually mean.
- If possible, schedule video calls with seniors to walk through financial aid offers with them and their families. Use or share CFPB’s Compare Financial Aid Tool to compare various offers and determine the out-of-pocket costs families will need to pay in the Left to Pay category of the tool.
- Use uAspire’s Student Phone Call Scripts to help students seek the guidance they need for their financial aid circumstances.
4. Navigate changing decision deadlines
Institutions are shifting decision deadlines across the country as both they and students face uncertainty in the fall. Students need support to ensure that they comply with revised deadlines and to understand the implications of committing to a college.
- Connect with your colleagues and identify ways you can support with a virtual decision day.
- Try one of Generation TX’s virtual decision day ideas: social media challenges, video conferencing events, or home door or yard decorations to promote the college-going culture.
- Share, through your online classroom tool, NACAC’s College Admission Status tool, which is a central resource for information about colleges’ plans and policies for admission events.
5. Combat summer melt
Summer melt occurs when a student who is accepted to a postsecondary institution fails to enroll or attend in the fall. Financial, family, and workforce circumstances all can keep students from starting college even when they’ve made a commitment to do so.
- Share, through your online classroom tool, your school counselor’s contact information and process for requesting support throughout the summer.
- Encourage students to contact their financial aid offices or admission offices with any concerns about the fall. Colleges and universities have a plan to support their students for the fall, including emergency aid. In some cases, such aid can be directed toward a computer if a student doesn’t have one.
- Encourage students to complete orientation registration and housing forms. Inform your students that some colleges are waiving housing fees or deferring housing deposits until financial aid can kick in for the fall. They simply need to contact the financial aid office.
- Connect students to other alums that are currently at their college choice to learn more about the campus environment (both physical and virtual).
- Encourage students to follow their college of choice on social media. They can also see if organizations they’re interested in have a social media page to follow.
Deciding on the best-fit college/university during COVID-19 can be stressful for your students. This document includes a number of guiding questions your students can ask admissions and financial aid offices. This will help them make an informed decision on choosing the right institution. Note: Clicking the link will create a copy of the document in your Google Drive.