How to Celebrate College Signing Day Virtually
Just like many aspects of higher education, College Signing Day looks a little different this year.
This year, Better Make Room announced that we will celebrate College Signing Day virtually. Further, the whole month of May will serve as a chance to honor these soon-to-be college students. This places the people who work with, or will soon work with, graduating seniors in an important role.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that this year’s graduating class feel supported. High school counselors, college access pros, and admissions pros can all work to help the Class of 2020 feel motivated about their next steps. Also, they can help graduating seniors approach their next steps at a crucial time in higher education.
Beating summer melt
According to a recent article from Inside Higher Ed, roughly one in six students who had college plans have said they will not enroll this fall. Surprisingly, this even includes the 12% of students who have already paid a deposit. It is expected that summer melt will be worse than usual this year. This means that more students who fully planned to go to college will not do so this fall for a variety of reasons. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic may rank highly on the list of reasons.
All of this means that those who play a supportive role to graduating seniors will be vital this year. In particular, admissions offices should take both caution and action. They will need to bridge the gap between high school and college through all the chaos in the world right now. Just as important will be celebrating seniors and their accomplishments so far. Helping them realize they are capable of earning their education despite the unusual circumstances can make a huge difference.
A good place to start is to celebrate College Signing Day virtually with others across the country. We encourage high school teachers and counselors, college access pros, admissions pros, alumni, and even entire communities to join in and make the Class of 2020 feel celebrated. Below are five ways to get the celebration started (from a safe distance).
1. Use social media to share your story.
This is a fun way to show off your college pride. Snap a selfie while you’re wearing your favorite college gear and share why you chose the college or university you did. You can share your favorite college memory, your favorite class, or what made your college or university feel like home to you. This can be a great conversation starter with students.
2. Encourage students to share their stories via social media.
From your school’s, or even your personal, social media accounts, let students know that you want to hear their stories. Invite them to share why they chose their college or university of choice. Encourage them to snap selfies of themselves in their favorite college gear for social sharing. Request that they use a hashtag unique to your school or initiative as well as the #CollegeSigningDay hashtag so you can find posts easily.
Be sure to interact with students who participate! A simple “like” or “share” can go a long way for students. This is especially true if that “like” or “share” comes from an institution’s account.
3. Livestream a virtual College Signing Day ceremony.
Educators and admissions staff can have fun with this. School counselors might think about hosting a virtual celebration to honor their students. Simply sharing the photos, accomplishments, and college plans of seniors can fuel a virtual ceremony. The video can be livestreamed to students and families through Zoom, Facebook Live, or another video livestream service.
Admissions staff might consider a similar ceremony to welcome committed students to their institution. Even better, these can be done in partnership with local schools. For example, school counselors may invite admissions staff from each institution that their students have committed to attend. The admissions staff from each university can read off the names and show the photos of their incoming freshmen during the livestream. Using college pennants and trinkets as decoration can help show off your school pride - and get students excited, too!
4. Ask teachers/professors/administration to post a short video in celebration of seniors.
Some colleges and universities may invite their institution’s president to say a few words about the Class of 2020 in a short video. These videos can be posted to social media to show seniors that they are being celebrated by the institution they plan to attend. You may also encourage college professors and instructors to post short videos of support. Be sure to share your school’s College Signing Day hashtags with them if they post the videos to their own social accounts.
High school staff and college access pros can also join in by posting videos. They might note how proud they are of the Class of 2020 and their well-wishes as they embark on their next journey. These videos can go a long way in making seniors feel supported.
5. Text students who have committed to postsecondary education to celebrate them.
Send personalized texts to give seniors a virtual high five for graduating and committing to pursue higher education. Don’t be surprised if your text leads to a conversation with some of your students. Often, supportive texts can lead to students’ asking questions unrelated to the first text message sent. This is a great way to open up that line of communication to make sure students are feeling ready for their next steps.
You can use texts in a variety of creative ways during College Signing Day - and through the month of May to celebrate college-bound seniors. For instance, college access pros might consider segmenting texts to students who plan to attend various institutions. They might congratulate them on their choice to continue their education or training beyond high school, noting how exciting it is that they will attend their chosen college. College staff might reach out to incoming freshmen and let them know how excited they are to welcome them to the college’s family.
Celebrating College Signing Day at Signal Vine
We wanted to kick off this year’s College Signing Day celebration at Signal Vine by showing off our pride in our alma maters. Like many others, we’re doing our part and working remotely, but that didn’t stop us from showing off our favorite college gear.
Check out the photos below from our virtual celebration! Happy College Signing Day!
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