In May 2013, then-First Lady Michelle Obama attended her first College Signing Day event in San Antonio, Texas. Since then, Mrs. Obama has celebrated College Signing Day every May, hosting large rallies that celebrate the plans students have made for life after high school. These rallies have attracted other big-name celebrities like Robert DeNiro, Melissa McCarthy, Nick Cannon, Daya, and others who joined the first lady to celebrate students.
Michelle Obama and her Better Make Room initiative have created a national movement around celebrating students. Florida College Access Network has spearheaded this movement in Florida and has sponsored statewide Florida College Decision Day events for the past three years. This year, we are excited that more than 250 schools have registered to host Decision Day events!
Making College Decision Day Fit Your School
Think you can’t host Florida College Decision Day because you can’t book a movie star or get the whole school together for a celebration? Think again!
While hosting a big assembly with A-list celebrities in attendance is exciting, it is not feasible for most schools. For many schools, it can be difficult to find the time or space to host even a small assembly.
But College Decision Day doesn’t have to be a big production. There are many smaller-scale ways for schools to celebrate and recognize students for their post-high school plans.
Working With What You Have
Mindy Edgeman, who was a College and Career Counselor at Lennard High School in Hillsborough County last year, used to say that she didn’t do Decision Day the “right way.”
“Our school didn’t have a space big enough for the whole student body,” she explained, “And even if it did, I couldn’t get everyone out of class.”
Mindy decided to celebrate her students with the resources she did have by hosting a small celebration in the library. She bought snacks and raffle prizes for the students, and invited students to come down during their English classes.
When students arrived, they received raffle tickets and had the opportunity to sign their name and school of choice on a large “College Decision Day” banner. After the event, Edgeman laminated the banner and had it hung in the hallway.
Creating the banner recognized the seniors while allowing younger students to get excited about where their peers were going to college. “It really hyped up the juniors for the next year,” she explained, “because they knew that students going to college got to do something special.”
Coordinating With Existing Events
This year, Mindy is the College and Career Counselor at Bloomingdale High School. She has made her plan for Decision Day even more seamless by incorporating it into an existing Senior Breakfast.
Every year, Bloomingdale High hosts a breakfast where they play a senior slide show and give students the opportunity to sign yearbooks. During this event, Mindy plans to distribute raffle tickets and encourage students to sign the Decision Day Banner.
“I’m hoping to keep the banners from each year. That way, we can hang them in the hallway to show where each graduating class went to college.” She hopes displaying these banners through the years will continue to reinforce a college-going culture among her students.
Get Funding for Your Event
Do you want to host an event like Mindy’s for students at your school? Better Make Room has made $45,000 in funding available to Florida high schools hosting Decision Day events. If you have questions about how to get the funding for your school, contact Amy Bolick, FCAN’s community engagement and programs manager.