CSUN gets ahead of the summer melt by hosting open house event

Future Matadors, student volunteers, faculty and staff enjoy veggie plates and sandwiches in Manzinita Hall. The hall hosted tables informing future students of some of the programs hosted there in Northridge, Calif., on June 29, 2023. Photo by Solomon O. Smith

Ashley Sanchez and Edward Segal

Over a thousand prospective students came to California State University, Northridge Thursday night to explore the nine colleges the university offers.

Student Outreach and Recruitment hosted the Matador Summer Celebration event to welcome an estimated 1,300 students, and encouraged them to ask questions and connect with the CSUN community.

Bella Bitran, a Los Angeles Pierce College transfer, asks Rhea Rendon, a graphic design major in her senior year, questions about the CSUN art program in Northridge, Calif., on June 29, 2023. Photo by Solomon O. Smith.

CSUN Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Meera Komarraju said that if students build connections with others on campus early, that can go a long way in convincing them to attend.

“They’re looking for that human connection, and the parents who are bringing the students here want to make sure that they’re in a place they like and that someone will take care of them,” Komarraju said. “I think that communicating that to the students is important, and that’s what this is doing.”

The event also featured games for incoming students, including Jenga and Connect Four, and food trucks set up next to Sierra Hall.

After the tours ended, attendees were invited to watch “Top Gun: Maverick” as part of CSUN’s Summer Movie Fest series, hosted by Associated Students.

Komarraju said that it’s these events that help students feel more connected to the university.

“You’ve got to really feel like you’re part of a community,” Komarraju said.

Jordyn Rolfe, a transfer student looking to major in kinesiology, said she came to the event to familiarize herself with other students within her major.

“Hopefully, I can make some new friends, connect more with my peers from my college who are passionate about the degree that I am in and find some study buddies,” Rolfe said.

According to David Dufault-Hunter, the Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services, this is only the second time that CSUN has hosted this event.

CSUN experiences a phenomenon called the “summer melt” between May and August where Dufault-Hunter said 18-20% of students who made an initial commitment do not attend CSUN in the fall.

According to the National College Attainment Network, a nonprofit organization that helps students prepare and apply for college, the rate of the summer melt ranges from 10-40% nationally.

One of the reasons the summer melt is almost 20% at CSUN is because the university doesn’t require potential students to make a deposit when filing their intent to register, while many other CSUs require prospective students to pay upwards of $100 for the university to hold their spot.

“Because the intent to register is free, students can go to multiple places and make decisions to go elsewhere,” Dufault-Hunter said.

Dufault-Hunter also said that to address the summer melt percentages, current students were chosen to lead tours so that incoming students could hear firsthand experiences.

Juan Ortega Flores, a mechanical engineering major entering his senior year, said he was asked to help showcase the Matador Motorsports Formula Society of Automotive Engineers projects.

“I think that it’s really beneficial for the students to see real, physical projects that they will actually be able to work up towards,” Flores said.

Flores said he wished the event happened this early in the summer, when he transferred to CSUN two years ago, because he felt like it would’ve been useful to know the available resources on campus.

“When I first transferred to CSUN, I don’t think I was familiar with a lot of the events going on,” Flores said. “I think students are getting a lot of good exposure today.”

Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science Xudong Jia said that having current students there to talk about projects they have worked on is vital in the effort to convince newcomers to attend.

“Outside, we have the Formula cars and we talk about Solar and Wind Energy Engineering. We have so many projects the students did,” Jia said. “Four years later, they will be in the same place, dealing with the same thing.”

For many, the event felt like another transition into normalcy from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CSUN’s Vice President for Student Affairs William Watkins said the pandemic reminded people of the importance of face-to-face interactions.

“We could send letters endlessly, and that works to a certain extent, but there’s nothing like a phone call or interpersonal connection to truly say ‘we’re happy to have you here,’” Watkins said.

Many students said they felt like this experience allowed them to see what it’s like to attend CSUN by conversing with those who have been in their place.

Daniel Solis, an incoming freshman majoring in radiologic sciences, said that he liked being able to talk to people in person about the university and about his decision to attend CSUN.

“Everyone that I knew in person that came here said it was their best option. They don’t regret it,” Solis said. “I liked it. I feel positive coming here and hearing all the positive experiences from my teachers and family. I feel like I made a good choice.”