As part of our former first lady’s Reach Higher Initiative, College Signing Day has become an annual celebration that provides us all a chance to rally around local students to show them support and celebrate their choice in making a commitment to higher education. Reach Higher is focused around activating educators and other adults to help students see college as attainable.
The initiative centers around four main components: exposing students to college, college affordability, academic and summer planning, and supporting school counselors. In collaboration with this initiative, the Better Make Room campaign in support of Reach Higher, is being led by students, providing them the space to declare their commitment to their future all while engaging and encouraging others along the way to also see the value of a higher education. The model is molded around the idea that peer-to-peer encouragement can be powerful as peers are sharing their firsthand experiences around the rite of passage that committing to college represents. Together, the Reach Higher Initiative and the Better Make Room campaigns are hoping to rally the community around higher education, giving everyone an opportunity and a reason to participate to celebrate.
College Signing Day has grown over the years, reaching an all-time high in participation last year with over 1,200 events occurring throughout the country on the same day to celebrate students committing to continuing their education after high school. This year, College Signing Day will be celebrated on May 5th and is encouraged to be celebrated at some point during the week of May 1st.
Given that May 1st is the official deadline for students to make decisions on their college choice, the entire week will serve as an opportunity to celebrate the feat of choosing the right college for them. There are many ways to get involved. If there is no event planned for your local high school, help plan it. There are premade College Signing Day toolkits available that can facilitate the entire process. Obviously, it will be important to include teachers, counselors and parents, but the true stars of the event are the students, so their input is equally valuable. However, it is also acceptable for schools to celebrate at a time anywhere from now to early June that best fit their schedules so do not be discouraged by the given time constraints.
It is a known fact that education is worth way more than a higher paycheck; an education provides options. Yet, even with data demonstrating the array of benefits, many young people today are not choosing to pursue higher education. In order to combat this, it will be important that educational leaders and advocates are more intentional about how we promote and encourage access to higher education. This can start with two simple steps:
- Supporting and encouraging young people to reach higher (with a starting point being #CollegeSigningDay)
- Creating a framework for young people commit to higher education by sharing their stories and inspiring others to reach higher.
All of us can encourage our newer generations to see the value of an education by joining the movement and helping to make College Signing Day a memorable and meaningful event for our students in their journey.
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