Decision Day 2015: Moving the Needle and Reaching Higher

Part Two

This blog is part two in a series that highlights the efforts of three Local College Access Networks and their schools in hosting College Decision Day 2015, in which 110 schools from throughout the state participated. To view the first blog post in the series, click here. To view a collection of Decision Day feedback and comments collected from social media, check out our Storify page. Schools, LCANs and students were asked to show their Decision Day support by simply wearing a college t-shirt and posting a picture to social media using the hashtags #DecisionDay and #ReachHigher. 

Detroit College Access Network  

DCSD M.Obama on Stage
College-bound students from greater Detroit are recognized by Michelle Obama on College Decision Day.

To say that schools within the Detroit College Access Network had a successful 2015 College Decision Day is an understatement. In Detroit alone, more than 2,000 high school seniors from over 40 high schools celebrated their postsecondary future. The culmination of year-long college-going efforts resulted in a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama, who spoke to Detroit's college-bound seniors on Friday, May 1 at Wayne State University. R&B Singer Ciara and University of Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh also were present and helped drum up positive publicity for the event.

"I have received so many 'thank-you' emails telling me what a powerful day it was, how they [college-access professionals] felt like the atmosphere and culture was so great," says Ashley Johnson, DCAN coordinator. "Students were sitting and engaged for up to three hours at a time, talking with fellow students who were going to the same college." Johnson also cites the work of college representatives who were present, as having a great impact on the event. "They looked at lists to help ensure students had completed all of the steps that follow notification of college admission - paying education deposits, official acceptance, and ensuring the students weren't facing roadblocks to completing the requirements."

DCAN includes more than 50 schools in the Detroit area. Its efforts to rally College Decision Day participation started at the beginning of the school year. During College Application week, Johnson says DCAN encouraged its schools to start thinking about the College Cash Campaign and Decision Day events.  "Having everyone see that it's a series of events for seniors - that these three events help students enroll in college - is helpful," says Johnson. 

Because of the number of schools it supports, DCAN seeks to make the most impact by providing high quality training that equips counselors and college advisers with the tools to build a college-going culture among students. Johnson says that building support within the schools is not difficult, thanks to having individuals on DCAN's leadership team who are college-access experts, and already invested in the cause. She also credits the use of hard data, which is essential to encouraging school participation. Johnson says that DCAN collects data for every campaign it runs. It’s a tactic that pays off, as it helps gain buy-in from school leaders. Johnson suspects that once the college enrollment data for the class of 2015 becomes available, it will be even more compelling.

Johnson encourages other LCANs to help their schools celebrate College Decision Day. "This [College Decision Day] gave Detroit an opportunity. A chance to take work beyond the school building and get the community involved," she says. "People want to help. It's a selling point and a great way to involve the business community. Detroit students are college bound."

To learn more about some of the Detroit students who are college bound, watch this YouTube video, which highlights six Detroit students who share their stories of challenges, determination, and of chasing their dreams of going to college. #CollegeBoundDET

Christ Taylor headshot 2013Author: Christi Taylor, director of statewide initiatives, Michigan College Access Network

Date: June 2, 2015

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