One of the latest trends in college access is cheap, effective and requires nothing more than dedication and a high school gymnasium. It’s called a College Signing Day or College Decision Day, and it’s a low-cost, high-spirited way to build a college-going culture in your local school and community.

College signing days take a cue from the glitz of college athletics, where elite high school athletes bask in a national spotlight as they sign intent letters to play sports at  certain universities. In a similar way, a college signing day gathers a community’s high school seniors and celebrates their paths after high school, making a public show out of a commitment to attend college, a certificate program or other post-secondary training.

Across the country, many schools are planning events on or around May 1 to celebrate the postsecondary paths of their graduating high school seniors. Often, a college signing day can help schools organize college planning activities that culminate in the big event.

Here are some examples across the country that Florida communities should consider:

In San Antonio, Texas on Friday, May 2, over 4,000 students will file into the University of Texas San Antonio Convocation Center where they will be seated according to the college, vocational school or university they plan to attend in the fall.  With a light show, a red carpet, a professional MC delivery from a San Antonio Spurs announcer and a speech from Mayor Julian Castro, the event is the capstone for College Week, which promotes college and career readiness in elementary, middle and high schools.

In Michigan, College Decision Day has become a statewide initiative of the Michigan College Access Network. Helping to coordinate the work of many individual high schools through the state, the organization has produced a helpful guide on how high schools can celebrate the postsecondary plans of ALL their graduating seniors, in ways that entice the student body, excite the local media and encourage a college-building culture. Learn more about hosting a College Decision day here or watch a webinar or download a PowerPoint presentation.

On the national level, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has blogged about the need for American high schools to develop college signing days of their own. “The effects of College Signing Day last longer than a two-hour assembly,” writes Duncan.  “The event can shift the focus of an entire student body from high school graduation to postsecondary commencement. . . It shows them that academic excellence is just as worthy of cheers, shouts, and photo ops as athletic prowess.”

*Photo from the website, sachartermoms

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