Decision Day 2015: Moving the Needle and Reaching Higher

Part Three

This blog is part three 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 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. 

Launch Manistee College Access Network

 Brethren DD 5 picmonkeyed 1024x763
Brethren High School Students celebrate College Decision Day  

Launch Manistee has bragging rights. The LCAN successfully rallied all six high schools within its boundaries to participate in College Decision Day (and two other statewide initiatives) for the first time this year. Program Coordinator Mary Ann Behm says efforts began in August, when encouraging registration for College Application Week, and then continued through the College Cash Campaign and Decision Day. During College Application Week, 96 percent of seniors across Manistee County applied to one or more colleges. "As a county, we had so much enthusiasm and energy going into that initiative [College Application Week]," says Behm.  "We had our first ever FAFSA Completion Event in Manistee County during February, where we had participation from the counselors and financial aid departments of our three closest colleges." Building on this momentum, Launch Manistee then moved its focus to Decision Day.

"The support from the LCAN leadership team was extremely important," says Behm." They were genuinely enthusiastic about the idea and concept of Decision Day. I also discussed it with the area superintendents at their meetings to gain support from the top down." Behm also garnered support from the community, and obtained donations from local organizations such as the Manistee Rotary Club, and a screen-print shop, which donated event funds and Decision Day-themed t-shirts to 234 seniors in Manistee County. School counselors took charge by planning their own activities within the schools.

The efforts of the Launch Manistee leadership team, counselors, and Behm seem to have paid off, as these testimonials from excited staff members indicate:

"We are having a blast! ...the seniors are in such an excited mood! They have gone to talk to our middle school students...purely their idea, and are loving the experience of sharing with the youngsters. We head into the gym for our rally at 1:35. Kids are all in their shirts...took lots of pictures!"

-Staff Member, Brethren High School

"It went very well. Our students discussed what they are planning to do after high school with other students. Everyone listened extremely well and it sparked some great discussion regarding futures and planning."

-Staff Member, CASMAN Academy

Behm expects that next year, Decision Day in Manistee County will be even bigger and better. She intends to begin planning earlier in the year, and recommends that other schools start planning at the beginning of the year too, so as to avoid generating extra work during spring break and testing time periods. "Maximize it. Plan it earlier," she says. "Next year, we'll have learned from each other and other schools who have done it." Still, Launch Manistee's inaugural effort resulted in six high schools participating in all three statewide initiatives; they should certainly be proud of that.

MCAN Tip: To save you time and effort, we are asking schools to sign up for every initiative they’d like to participate in, using this survey. Schools may sign up for as few or many as they would like.

Christ Taylor headshot 2013Author: Christi Taylor, director of statewide initiatives

Posted: June 4, 2015

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