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College Signing Day: High school seniors share their experiences in audio diaries


There are many exciting and memorable moments over the duration of a student’s high school career. From proms and student elections to getting a driver’s license and College Signing Day.

The graduating class of 2022 is a special one as a significant portion of their high school journey was spent in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students quickly had to learn harsh life lessons, in addition to juggling homework and exams. Through their own grit and determination, they have arrived at the end of one journey and are about to make a very important decision about what the next journey in their lives looks like.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Reach Higher College Signing Day initiative in 2014 to inspire students — particularly first-generation college students and students from low-income families —  to continue their education past high school. It is in this month-long celebration that we see students from across the country on the cusp of making the life-changing decision of where to go to college.

But since the pandemic, there has been an alarming and continual drop in college enrollment, with nearly one million fewer students pursuing a degree. The National Student Clearing House reports that enrollment in higher education institutions fell an additional 2.7% in the fall of 2021, following a 2.5% drop the preceding fall. The implications of which remain to be seen. What we do know is people without education beyond high school tend to earn significantly less than their peers with a college degree, are more likely to live in poverty and vote less

A primary focus of Kresge’s Education Program is addressing and dismantling barriers to college enrollment and graduation. But it is also important to celebrate the dedication of students making the big decision on where to continue their education.

College Signing Day celebrates all students committed to pursuing an education past high school. Whether it’s attending a community college, a four-year university, a transfer institution, or any other education past high school, College Signing Day shows full support of students making a choice for their future.

Given how tough the past two years have been, especially on students, this should be a season of joy and hope for young people who have seen and experienced trauma and unprecedented historical events since the start of the pandemic.

To capture the experiences of graduating seniors, the Education team asked students from across the country to share their thoughts in audio diaries on what College Signing Day means to them and what’s on their mind as they prepare for this major life change. We invite you to join us in celebrating College Signing Day on social media by using #CollegeSigningDay.

Listen to their stories: