Let's Go to college Virginia! Decision Day is a celebratory event first sponsored by the National College Advising Corps (NCAC), which was founded at the University of Virginia. Both the organization and the event are now recognized
nationally. Decision Day activities rally support for students as they make their decisions about life after high school. While events have been happening over the past few years at various locations across the state, 2017 was the first year that
the Commonwealth of Virginia joined local schools and communities in celebrating the postsecondary choices of our students through Decision Day in Virginia. Decision Day in VA now serves as the annual culminating event for the 1-2-3 Go! initiative.
The goal of Decision Day is to recognize ALL high school seniors for their postsecondary plans and encourage younger students and families to prepare early for postsecondary education. It is important that we celebrate this big step for seniors and involving
underclassmen helps to build a stronger college-going culture and informed student pipeline. Decision Day is held annually on or around May 1.
Why celebrate Decision Day?
− To recognize all students for their postsecondary plans
− To encourage and remind students it’s time to make a decision
− To support the best match and fit for each student
− To motivate and excite younger
students about their future college and career plans
− To support a school and community college-going culture
Making Decisions about College - Toolkit for Students and Families
Maps of Colleges and Universities in Virginia
Factors to Consider: Choosing the Right College (also in Spanish)
Make Your Decision: Compare Award Offers (also in Spanish)
Senior Year Checklist (also
Download these resources and/or refer to your hard copy of the 2021-22 Virginia Opportunities guide and workbook. Guides are available through most school counseling offices
and can be ordered by school staff in bulk at https://www.ecmc.org/schools/order-opportunities-booklets.html.
Host an Event
Register your event as a Signing Day project and receive national recognition.
Here you will find a kit for hosting a decision day or college signing day event.
Suggestions for Decision Day Activities
Plan at least one school-wide event where all students can be recognized for their future plans. Following are some ideas to get you started:
- Create a “College Wall.” Seniors write the names of the college where they plan to attend on banners or strips of construction paper to hang in a main hallway. Utilize art teachers (if available) for additional promotional
materials to create a “college-going culture” on the walls of your school
- Announcements. Make announcements over the school audio/video system to acknowledge students who decided to enroll and share where they will be going to college.
- Assembly. Host an all-school assembly to celebrate the postsecondary accomplishments of each of your seniors and their families. This could be an add-on to an already established school event or a stand-alone assembly. Make sure to
invite all grade-levels to participate.
- Community picnic or fair. Host an afterschool community-wide picnic or celebration. This may require a larger budget, but will engage more community members and students of all ages.
- Guest speakers. Whether you host a school assembly or a community event, invite high school alumni, elected officials, college admissions and financial aid representatives, local business leaders and parents to elaborate from personal
experience on the importance of college.
- Interviews. Interview seniors about their college plans and send the articles to local newspapers, as public service announcements on local radio, as intercom/homeroom announcements, as ads in the school newspaper; or create a special
section in the school newspaper that gives the names of seniors and their selected college.
- College gear. Encourage students and school staff to wear college t-shirts on a particular day of the week.
- Social Media. As students bring in evidence of their postsecondary plans in the form of a college acceptance letter, military orders, or a similar offer letter, take pictures of the students with those letters/forms and post it to
the school’s social media channels using the hashtag #DecisionDayVA.
- Involve teachers and staff. During College Decision Day, ask teachers to share their college experience, wear their alma mater gear and post signs on classroom doors advertising where they went to school.
- Classroom visits. Conduct one-on-one or classroom visits with seniors and ask students if they have:
- Applied to college?
- Been admitted to college?
- Officially notified the college or university that they will enroll?
- Completed the FAFSA?
- Organization. Gather students' college choices in advance. Some schools require seniors to bringevidence of their postsecondary plans in the form of a college acceptance letter, military orders, or similar offer letter.
- Day of: The simplest and quickest way to ensure you have the college decision for each student is by handing the student a blank note card a few minutes before the event begins. Ask each student to write down their name and selected college.
This method is sometimes used during graduation ceremonies.
- Week(s) prior: Survey the seniors or schedule one-on-one visits. Ask the seniors to provide basic information of where they plan to go to college, where they are in the enrollment process, questions they have, and how you can assist them.
- Provide early awareness of the steps needed to enroll in college for younger students and families.
- Workshops. Provide workshops to younger students and their families.
- Possible topics: decision making, learning styles, study habits, the importance of GPA and high school course selection, college test prep, how to get help with grades and test prep, essay writing, applying to college, college admission criteria,
paying for college, “I’m admitted – now what?”, etc.
- College Spotlight. In the weeks leading up to Decision Day, choose a different college or university to feature in each morning’s announcements. Play the school’s fight song. Ask trivia questions and award prizes for correct
- Adopt-a-College. Each classroom can “adopt” a college to represent for the rest of year. This can be the teacher’s alma mater or the class may select a college/university. Students can decorate the classroom door
with the college/university colors and logo.
Thanks to Michigan College Access Network for their Decision Day Implementation Guide in providing the suggestions above.