Decision Day Celebrations Come to a Close; Michigan Well Represented

2017 saw MCAN’s fourth year of coordinating a College Decision Day campaign in high schools across the state, an initiative which seeks to build a college going culture by recognizing and celebrating the postsecondary plans of seniors. Throughout the month of May, 280 high schools hosted a College Decision Day event, a significant increase from last year’s 215 host sites. These events ranged from pep rallies to school fairs, and recognized a combined 41,000 seniors in front of their fellow students. Decision Day events are designed to impact college attainment and enrollment by increasing the awareness of younger students, helping fight summer melt through public commitment, and in assisting students to identify others attending the same institution, which can help create a necessary support system.

This campaign is MCAN’s regional coordination and support of the national College Signing Day Campaign, which has recently moved from Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Office to join Better Make Room at Civic Nation. I’m excited to announce that this year Michigan had more schools register to host an event than any other state in the nation, once again showing our commitment to expanding postsecondary access and creating a college going culture in our state. In addition to the number of host sites, Michigan schools took great advantage of mini-grant offered by the national campaign. Across the state, 70 schools received funding from Better Make Room, bringing in more than $37,000 to support their Decision Day events.

One site that received the Better Make Room grant was Howell High School, which coordinated an amazing event as their first year participating in the campaign. The school counselor at Howell used the grant money from the national campaign to purchase flags of postsecondary institutions, and seniors were grouped by college to take a victory lap around the track carrying their school's flag. What made this even more exciting was the inclusion of multiple grade levels all the way down to 5th grade, who attended the event to listen to the speakers and cheer on the seniors.

Another highlight of this year was the second annual Kalamazoo County College Signing Day. Coordinated by the College and Career Action Network in partnership with Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University, provided an opportunity for nearly 900 high school college, military or workforce-bound seniors in Kalamazoo County to gather and celebrate their intended post-secondary plan.  Students enjoyed a live DJ, motivational speakers, and a variety of giveaways. To support this larger effort, MCAN both sponsored the event and created a customized Snapchat filter, which was applied to 683 pictures and viewed over 13,000 times. 

     

Statewide, MCAN supports Decision Day events in a variety of ways.  All host sites are given free access to webinars and a coordinator toolkit which share best practices, offer examples of events, and provide templates for schools ranging from press releases to donation and volunteer requests. Additionally, MCAN helps bring attention to events through media outreach, and for the first time this year, created an Instagram contest for students to encourage social media buzz (you can check out the winners at my blog post). 

Lastly, Michigan host sites received promotional materials for their seniors, in the form of “I Decided” locker magnets and MCAN sunglasses. Due to unexpected circumstances in the shipping process, all promotional materials were shipped directly to MCAN’s office in what I now refer to as the “sunglassocalypse” (although I’m open to catchier names). If you’ve ever wondered about the logistics of sunglasses shipping, we ordered 45,000 pairs of sunglasses which equates to 2,650 lbs on six pallets, and one very sore and tired program assistant. However, through a valiant effort and a lot of help from the other MCAN staff, we managed to turn around and ship to all 280 sites within a week.

I want to wrap up this post by thanking all of the high school staff who were willing to put the time and effort into celebrating their students through Decision Day, as well as our higher education partners and Local College Access Networks who were able to spend time or funds to support this work in their communities. 

 

Author: Connor McLaughlin, 
Posted: June 6, 2017

 

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