National College Signing Day: 9 Ways to Celebrate Seniors and Their Next Steps

It’s SIGNING SEASON Y’ALL! Read on as we welcome first-time ClubX Blog contributor Stacy Ruff for ideas to celebrate your graduating seniors making decisions about their next steps.

As graduating seniors get ready to step into the realities of “adulting”, one of the biggest decisions they start off with is “where do I go from here?” For some, four-year universities are the route, for others, community colleges or trade schools are a better fit, and some go straight into the workforce, join the military, or go into an apprenticeship.  Regardless of the route, there comes a point when a final decision about their next step must be made.

If choosing a four-year college or university, that point is May 1 – the official deadline to notify their chosen school of their intent to attend in the Fall and submit their deposit payment.  In 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama marked the May 1 deadline by launching a national College Signing Day event as a way to bring attention to the thousands of teens taking this major step toward their future.  The tradition has continued and this year on May 1, more than 2,200 signing day events will take place around the country!  Check out her video to feel the excitement:

Practicing Positive Youth Development

In addition to being a huge celebration, National College Signing Day provides an excellent opportunity to practice positive youth development.

  • It encourages graduating seniors and reassures them that they have SUPPORTIVE and CARING ADULTS in their corner
  • It’s a FUN activity that relieves the stress they have been under throughout the decision-making process
  • It provides RECOGNITION of the accomplishments which builds self-confidence
  • It can promote an emotionally SAFE ENVIRONMENT by being inclusive of all seniors, regardless of which post-secondary path they pursue (college, work, military, etc.)
  • It creates OPPORTUNITIES to inspire younger kids who will witness the occasion and sets HIGH EXPECTATIONS for their own future.

What Can I Do for National Signing Day?

Glad you asked! Below are a few things youth development professionals can do to recognize graduating seniors who have decided on their plan for the future and help them celebrate this epic point in their life journey:

  1. Ask the seniors for their input and invite them to share leadership in planning the event.
  2. Encourage all staff to wear college paraphernalia on that day (whether it’s the school they went to or simply their favorite).
  3. Ask your seniors to wear an item (shirt, hat, etc.) representing their school of choice, military branch, or new employer to show off their decision. If they don’t have anything, you can help them out by printing out the school or company logos to use for the event.
  4. Invite parents, siblings, mentors, and local high school partners to attend the celebration – the more, the merrier!
  5. Create a simple declaration card that reads “On this day I have decided to attend _____________!”
  6. Hold a brief ceremony where each senior fills in and signs the declaration card in front of everyone, then individually congratulate them for their decision. The declaration cards can then be displayed on the walls for the remainder of the year.
  7. Take lots of pictures!
  8. Post your pictures and highlights on social media.
  9. Give all your graduating youth a Boys & Girls Club Alumni pin! (Which you can get right now for FREE!) Learn more at

For additional resources including graphics, sample letters, and event planning tools, or to register your event as part of the national celebration, check out the official website at:

Need Some Ideas for What it Could Look Like?


‘Signing Day’ recognizes high school seniors starting jobs, not college



No matter how you do it, just remember to make it special for the teens so they can always carry the memory with them on their journey.  Happy celebrating!


Stacy Ruff is a member of the Youth Development team and has been with the Movement for 3 ½ years creating workforce development and college & career programs.  She got her start in youth development as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching high school classes in Nicaragua and has been an advocate for youth ever since.


How do you plan to celebrate College Signing Day this year? We’d love to see pictures if you have an event. What are some unique ways you recognize your seniors for deciding their plan for the future? Let us know in the comments below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email to share!


college signing pin.png





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