Seniors’ hard work pays off on College Decision Day
When you think of College Signing Day, your mind most likely goes to high school athletes choosing which university or college team they will be joining in the fall. But there is another College Signing Day afoot: A smattering of high schools throughout Iowa are celebrating their seniors who have chosen to go to college with no (athletic) strings attached.
Take Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, known by locals simply by its initials, AL. On May 1, seniors who are planning on going to college in the fall participate in College Decision Day. There, like across town at Thomas Jefferson High (yes, known as TJ), students sign on the dotted line their intentions to head off to the college or university of their choice.
This is AL’s second year of holding College Decision Day, in which 180 students representing 55 percent of the senior class are expected to participate.
“Signing day is an opportunity for students to publicly announce their education beyond high school,” said AL Counselor Larella Rangel.
The purpose of College Decision Day, Rangel said, is multi-faceted.
“It contributes to a positive school environment and culture,” she said. “They are putting in writing that they are committing to attend. It provides the opportunity for the family to be a part of this process. It’s a culmination of years of planning and taking courses needed to get there.”
“Celebrating our seniors is a very public way of recognizing their success,” said VISTA volunteer Ben Thorp. “It’s also showing underclassmen how important that success is.”
Rangel said today’s global job demands require students to have additional education beyond high school, whether it is a four-year degree or training at a community college.
“The job market has become so much more competitive,” she said.
College Decision Day at AL is a day of celebration and activities, ranging from information tables on student aid to seniors discussing the application process to acquaint next year’s seniors on the potential bumps in the road they may experience.
The students – and parents – take it seriously.
“I received a call just this morning from one of my teachers,” Rangel said. “A parent had contacted her and said she couldn’t be there, but wanted to make sure her daughter’s photo was taken during signing ceremony so she could see it.”
In the end, College Decision Day unites students, families and the school toward one goal – success.
“It’s a ceremony for the driven students, their families and the dedicated teachers that helped cultivate that dream,” Rangel said. “It also ensures attaining that goal.”
During the morning celebration, there are occasional public announcements made throughout the school, congratulating individuals who have selected their colleges.
Seniors come and go into the common area, where cameras click, video whirs and applause abounds. Excitement is palpable.
Senior Scott Brown, who is going to UCLA in the fall and is planning a double major in environmental sustainability and pre-human biology, loved College Decision Day.
“I think it is really cool getting to see where everyone is going to go,” he said. “Today is really an honor because all of our hard work is paying off. It is the closing of our senior year.”
Abi Fisher, a senior who is heading to Iowa Western Community College, said she loved College Decision Day.
“It’s way for us to get to know who is going where,’ she said. “I feel really honored. Getting your picture taken individually with applause is a way to capture the moment.”