Michigan's College Access Blog

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, Program Assistant
Posted: June 6, 2017


Howell High School Decision Day Celebrates Students Pursuing Postsecondary Education

This blog post was authored by Howell Public Schools and was originally published on the district's website. The blog is posted here with permission.

On Thursday, May 18, Howell High School celebrated College Decision Day. The goal of College Decision Day was to celebrate the school’s seniors for their postsecondary educational plans and encourage younger students to prepare early for postsecondary education. The celebration included a parade of seniors holding signs representing their postsecondary education choices, a school-wide assembly and guest speakers. The speakers included Sarah Anthony, Michigan College Access Network deputy director for partnership and advocacy; and Captain Marc Aalderink, United States Air Force intelligence officer and assistant professor of aerospace Studies.

In the fall students from Howell will begin their postsecondary education at schools like Harvard, Penn State, The University of Alabama, The University of Michigan. Michigan State University and Central Michigan University. Other students plan to join the armed forces or enter the workforce after graduation.

“At Howell High School we continue to create a college-going culture. Throughout the year we have had events to help encourage students to apply to institutions of postsecondary education and to learn about the various types of financial aid that is available to students,” said Lisa O’Connor, Howell High School dean of students. “As a school, district and community, we are extremely proud of the Class of 2017 for taking this big step for their future.”

College Decision Day is the third event that Howell High School has hosted to help promote a college-going culture. Earlier in the school year, students participated in College Application Week, where all seniors were encouraged to apply to at least one college. The school also held a College Cash Campaign which taught students and parent about the various forms of financial aid available to help pay for college.


Author: Sarah Anthony, Deputy Director for Partnerships and Advocacy
Posted: May 31, 2017

#MiDecision Day Contest

This year the Michigan College Access Network created an Instagram contest mirroring The College Board’s #Collegiance campaign, in order to encourage Michigan students to participate in the national competition as well as to build some social media buzz around College Decision Day. As you know, Decision Day is Michigan’s version of the national College Signing Day initiative where schools hold an event to celebrate the postsecondary plans of their seniors. The heart of both the national and statewide challenges is for students to post social media pictures and videos creatively announcing the college they’ve decided to attend in the Fall. To learn more about the national contest, visit collegiance.wcm.collegeboard.org.

Winners of the Michigan contest will receive gift cards to help pay for college necessities. MCAN staff have chosen three videos, two photos, and one boomerang post as winners based on creativity and messaging. We wish all of our participants the best of luck within the #Collegiance campaign.

Now, to announce the winners!


Heavyn Word will be attending Oakland University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BT_zQdmlhyI/?tagged=midecisionday

The MCAN staff felt this was an excellent use of the boomerang medium to send a clear and concise declaration of where she’ll be attending. Oakland will be lucky to have you!


Jenny Wu will be attending the University of Michigan - https://www.instagram.com/p/BTqEjrdlcll/?tagged=midecisionday

We loved Jenny’s use of U of M swag and the fun nature of the photo. Best of luck at U of M!


Sara Lindberg will be attending Grand Valley State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BS6gcqMgdfu/?tagged=midecisionday

Sara’s photo in front of the Cook Carillon Tower won the votes of MCAN staff thanks to its presence on campus and GVSU Apparel. Go Lakers!



Valerie Aten will be attending Michigan State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BUGIjZPlO46/?tagged=midecisionday

A personal favorite, Valerie blew MCAN staff away by combining her passions with her announcement as well as the explosive twist at the end. Well done Valerie!

Brittany and Friends will be attending the University of Michigan, Alabama State University, Kalamazoo College, Michigan State University, Alabama A&M University, and Northwestern University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BT86Fl8hovN/?tagged=midecisionday

We absolutely loved the creativeness of this post, and the obvious time spent editing and pulling it together. Great job all of you, and we wish you the best of luck in your travels and at your respective schools.

Jacob will be attending Ferris State University - https://www.instagram.com/p/BUGYyg5DrW4/?tagged=midecisionday

Once again, we really enjoyed the inclusion of Jacob’s passion for tennis in the video, and thought it was wonderful how he brought in landmarks from the different campuses. Congrats on finding the one!

Congratulations once again to all of our winners, and thank you to all of our participants in the competition this year. Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks for our official Decision Day 2017 wrap-up blog post.


Author: Connor McLaughlin, Program Assistant
Posted: May 24, 2017

Inspiring a Tradition - 2015 CSD with Mrs. Obama in Detroit

This blog post was authored by Maria C. Montoya with Excellent Schools Detroit and was originally published on Medium.com as part of Better Make Room's College Signing Day blog series. Portions of the blog are posted here with permission.
All too often the individuals who are lifted up to our youth as role models are music icons and/or athletes. Yes, music icons and athletes are valuable roles models, but our students also need to be exposed to more everyday heroes. Everyday heroes often attribute post-secondary education as a key pathway to their success and are often not featured or honored for their choices. 

Choosing to take this path is something that deserves recognition, and a great deal of support from our communities. That is why it was a very easy decision for us to decide to host the first-ever citywide Detroit College Signing Day in May 2015... Continue Reading 


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