College Signing Day Kit

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1 College Signing Day Kit

2 What s Inside Goals for College Signing Day A Message from the First Lady The Reach Higher Initiative A Recap: College Signing Days Best Practices: Social Media, Press, and Planning the Event

3 The Goals of College Signing Day To encourage community leaders, schools, celebrities, and nonprofit and advocacy groups to host a Reach Higher College Signing Day to support students planning to attend and graduate from college To celebrate ALL students and their commitment to complete their education beyond high school

4

5 A Message from the First Lady (double click the box for video)

6 Reach Higher On May 1, 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama rolled out Reach Higher because she wanted to inspire every student across the country to pursue and complete a postsecondary degree, whether at a traditional 4-year college, a 2-year community college, or through an industry-recognized training program. The United States once led the world in the number of college graduates; now we are now ranked 12 th. In order to achieve the President s North Star goal that by 2020 the U.S. will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates Reach Higher focuses on four components: college affordability, exposing students to college, academic and summer planning, and supporting school counselors. Expose students to College & Career opportunities Make Financial Aid and college affordability a reality Inspire and support Academic & Summer Planning Support High School Counselors and mentors, enabling force multipliers

7 Reach Higher Expose students to College and Career opportunities: Students should explore opportunities that will foster their interests and that spark their curiosity. it s important that during high school, students ask questions to learn how their passions can turn into careers. This will keep students focused on a strong track to complete higher education. Students should research what college and higher education is like by searching the web, talking to graduates and trusted adults, and visiting campuses in order to become comfortable with the idea of college. Make Financial Aid and college affordability a reality: Affordability is a major barrier to college access. Students and their parents should become familiar with the financial aid process early before senior year of high school in order to understand that higher education is affordable to them, to learn the steps they need to take, and when to begin. Federal Student Aid offers families interactive tools to help with the process, such as understanding a family s financial aid eligibility, how to effectively research scholarship opportunities, and how and when to complete the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Inspire and support Academic and Summer Planning: Students need to know early what high school classes to take in order to be ready for higher education. Additionally, students should use their summers wisely by seeking learning opportunities through internships, enrichment courses, and other experiences that build character, apply classroom learning to real-world situations, explore their passions, and strengthen their resumes. Finally, all students should become familiar with the ACT and SAT testing cycles early to preparing for the tests, allowing enough time to take the tests more than once if necessary. Support School Counselors and other education mentors, enabling force multipliers: School counselors are key to assisting students navigate the college-going process. They are force multipliers, yet they are too few in numbers. Additionally, many of them do not have the training and knowledge necessary to help students navigate the higher education process. The average ratio in the U.S. is one counselor for 470 students; however it can be as low as 1: 1,015 students. The recommended ratio is 1:250. To help address this shortage, more adults and community leaders can serve as college mentors, helping students navigate the college prep and admission processes.

8 How You Can Get Involved There are opportunities for everyone to host a signing day, whether as a partner with your mayor for a citywide celebration or a small, school-based or neighborhood day of action. Partner with schools, community organizations and nonprofits to host a Signing Day Celebration in your city Challenge the high schools in your city to encourage students to wear t- shirts from the college they plan to attend Challenge teachers, principals, and city officials/employees to wear t- shirts from their alma maters or a local college or university Make an appearance at a local high school wearing paraphernalia from your alma mater or a local college or university Encourage local businesses to support college efforts by hanging signs and pennants celebrating students Share your activities with the media and your social networks with #ReachHigher

9 College Signing Days First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to students at the 4th Annual Destination College Signing Day at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

10 College Signing Day San Antonio 2014 (double click the box for video)

11 Social Media Participation Comedian Aisha Tyler Graduated from Dartmouth Secretary of State John Kerry School Counselors and Students Reach Higher President Obama in Columbia s School Colors Federal Student Aid Supports AAUW Staff Reaching Higher University of Puget Sound Alum, Actress Darby Stanchfield

12 Secretary Arne Duncan at YES Prep Senior Signing Day 2010 (double click the box for video)

13 Michigan College Access Network College Signing Day (double click the box for video)

14 Sample Social Media Posts Twitter To all the seniors committing to postsecondary education: We ve got your back! #ReachHigher This is such a big day for students across the nation! #HappySigningDay #ReachHigher Facebook Happy Signing Day to all the high school seniors! We are so proud of you for choosing to #ReachHigher We support all of our students so that they complete college and #ReachHigher! #HappySigningDay Instagram [Photo] Supporting our high school seniors and the First Lady s #ReachHigher Initiative #HappySigningDay [Photo] We re looking for the next best leaders. #CommitToEducation #ReachHigher

15 Sample Social Media Posts Twitter We believe in postsecondary education! We believe in our students! #HappySigningDay #ReachHigher This is such a big day for students across the nation! #HappySigningDay #ReachHigher Facebook Congrats to the seniors opening the door to a better future! #NationalSigningDay ##ReachHigher It s a special day for students! #HappySigningDay #ReachHigher Instagram [Photo] Supporting high school seniors and the First Lady s #ReachHigher Initiative #HappySigningDay [Photo] Students at our #SigningDay Celebration #CommitToEducation #ReachHigher

16 Sample Talking Points May 1 is the deadline for students across the nation to send in their commitment to the college or university that they will attend the following academic year. A lot of media attention goes to promising athletes when they select the college of their choice. We want every student to receive as much attention and have that same feeling of importance so that they too can feel special about this big day. The First Lady launched Reach Higher on May 2, 2014, by speaking at the University of Texas-San Antonio s fourth annual College Signing Day with Mayor Julian Castro (now U.S Secretary of HUD). Thanks to the First Lady and her efforts, this is now a growing tradition that we hope will take place in cities and schools across the nation.

17 Planning Your Event Host a city-wide event to acknowledge students across high schools Host a school-wide assembly to celebrate the seniors in your school making the most improvement Bring in outside speakers and entertainment, like alumni, financial aid experts, local leaders, professional sports stars, and TV or radio personalities Invite parents and families to join the fun Celebrate with a citywide picnic, party, or carnival Expand an existing school celebration that honors graduates HAVE FUN! Remember that this is a celebration!

18 Sample College Signing Day Certificate Create a certificate for students to sign pledging to complete college

19 Example #1 from a High School We hold a Signing Day that highlights academic scholars who have been accepted to college. We mimic the NCAA model with purpose to reinforce that excellence in the classroom should be given as much (if not more) pomp and circumstance as excellence on the field, court, etc. We host a school wide assembly where all students witness our seniors commit and physically sign a statement of intent to enroll, accompanied by admissions representatives from their respective schools. I'd even go so far to say it ROCKS.

20 Example #2 from a High School Our school invites seniors to wear colors indicating their plans for the following year on National Decision Day. With over 94% of our students going to two or four year colleges, many seniors are sporting college t-shirts or the colors from their school. Our JROTC students also tend to dress up. We also ask teachers to sport logo-wear from their colleges, to encourage conversations about their college experiences with students of all grades. Seniors sign an official roster listing where they plan to attend We also take solo or group photos of friends in their college garb or holding a pennant to indicate where they are going. Seniors know these pictures will go on a giant bulletin board outside the Cafeteria listing "Where is the class of 2014 going?" This is a real "feel good" event that is great publicity for the college process and has low cost.

21 Request an Administration Principal to Attend Your College Signing Day 1. Take the College Signing Day pledge at 2. Plan your College Signing Day event. 3. Complete the Signing Day Speaker Request form.

22 For Updates and More Information: Eric Waldo Executive Director, Reach Higher (202)

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