I am completely aware that college is not the post-secondary path for every high school student. However, hosting an event like a “College Application Day” is shown to increase high school seniors’ confidence and independence around the college application process.
Your College Application Day event might be the boost your students need to overcome obstacles, roadblocks, and barriers in their ongoing college story. Your presence as the supportive high school counselor throughout this process may be the positive impact your student needs to follow through with matriculation to a college and completion of a higher education degree. The long-term effects you can have on a student’s journey are so meaningful!
College Application Day began as an initiative in our state to boost access to higher education. It has become a fun event to plan and an anticipated day in our school each fall by staff and students alike.
Here are 3 ways you can increase your senior students’ confidence around college applications using a College Application Day event.
1- Give clear direction.
If you have a well-organized College Application Day, your students will come in prepared to apply, fill out at least one application, and leave with the proper next steps. You get to define this event! Think outside the box, and make it fun and meaningful! (Consider having music playing when students enter and exit the event or have a playlist going while they’re working on their applications! Here’s a free College Application Day playlist I made on Spotify!)
Consider your event to be a workshop that gives hands-on assistance to your students through the application process. For many, this will be the safest space they have to ask questions and get step-by-step guidance through the process.
Your leadership will set the tone for the success of your event and the strides your students will make. When you give students the tools they need to accomplish their tasks on this day, they will find quick wins that will create momentum for more growth and more opportunity.
As you support your students with events like this, you will continue to add relational credibility to your already established relationship-building endeavors. Students will trust you and come to you for honest feedback, empathy in the good and the tough transitional college situations, and support for their next chapter.
2- Connect students to local college representatives and volunteers.
Use your event to invite other professionals inside the doors of your school. Students will be able to see themselves on a college campus when they can connect with a representative or admissions counselor from that university, an alumni from your high school, or a current college student.
Invite current college students to share their stories and help with applications. An older student who has been through the process can certainly contribute to your event because they have gone through this college application experience themselves. If students can see themselves in an older mentor’s journey, they can begin to visualize themselves finding success in an attainable way.
An admissions counselor who makes a connection with a student over their college or university may be the bridge a student needs to follow through with an application and enrollment at a college. A student who understands how to reach out to the admissions counselor will be more independent and communicative with the college once you’ve established this connection for them. This relationship could give a senior student more confidence in the college application process.
3- Prevent summer melt.
Offering support during the school year for your seniors will help you determine who needs that extra TLC when it comes to applying to college and transitioning to college. Starting the conversation early during senior year with an event like a College Application Day will give your students the time and space they need to learn about the college application process, finish their applications, and prepare to transition to college.
When you walk alongside them in their applications, you earn the right to be heard for more help along the way and, ultimately, lay the foundation for a smooth launch into their next phase. After applications, students will probably still need help with financial aid (cost of attendance, understanding award letters, future budgeting plans), taking placement tests or sending test scores, applying for housing, and registering for classes… among other things.
I hope you consider hosting a College Application Day to create an exciting buzz around a student’s ability to gain access to higher education whether that is a certification, a two-year degree, a four-year degree, or beyond! For a more detailed step-by-step of how I host the day with more specific details, check out this blog post.
With the right mindset as a high school counselor, we can use College Application Day to equip students and build their confidence around the college application process!
Want a free resource to make your College Application Day bigger and better? Download this free College Application Day Spotify playlist to bring the fun to your event! When you download, you’ll join my Clique… my email list where you’ll receive other freebies, tips, and updates from my Counselor Clique!