This year, 210 seniors in the College Possible program will graduate high school and begin their college journey. The third annual College Decision Day marks the beginning of their transition to college campuses across the country, celebrating two years of hard work earning acceptance into a four-year college.
Hosted by Google in their Chicago office, College Decision Day is a time to bring high school seniors together from across the city to acknowledge their accomplishments and receive inspiration from their College Possible coaches. Each high school senior coach prepared a unique presentation for the event. Some went with the classic heartfelt speech, reflecting on the past year and providing wisdom on the years ahead. One coach, Samantha Flores, created a version of Taylor Swifts’ “Love Story,” writing her own lyrics about working on college applications and FAFSA. While Sam’s musical parody made the crowd laugh, and other speeches made us cry, every one revealed the strong bond that has formed between coaches and their students.
“My coach has been my supporter through every struggle I’ve had. She has taught me how to keep striving no matter what,” a senior said.
We rounded out the event with a fireside chat with Martin Nesbitt, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Vistria and Chairman of the Obama Foundation. He spoke about his own path to and through college, reminding students that with hard work and dedication, they can achieve great things. Nesbitt’s story rang true with the students who, like him, are eager to be the first in their family to earn a degree. He also talked about the power of surrounding yourself with positive influences. As an example, he highlighted his close friendship with former President Barack Obama explaining how impactful that relationship has been on his life both personally and professionally.
It is essential for college students to build these positive connections that will help them through challenging times. At College Decision Day, we grouped students together that will attend the same university to meet and start building those support systems. Additionally, students enrolling at UIC, U of I, and National Louis University were able to hear from administrative staff who attended the event.
Izze, a senior at Lake View High School was nervous about attending Columbia College in the fall. He worried about making friends, how he would fit in and the academic challenges to come. During College Decision Day, he met Jane, a senior at Thomas Kelly High School who is also attending Columbia in the fall. The two connected, talking about their excitements, fears, intended majors and career goals. At the end, they exchanged phone numbers. Just knowing there will be one familiar face on Columbia’s campus in August helped turn Izze’s fears into excitement for the next phase in his life.
College Possible is extremely proud of all the accomplishments of our seniors. Thus far, 94 percent of this year’s class have been accepted into a four-year university and collectively earned over $5.6 million in scholarships. Come August, our students will be attending 44 different colleges from Hawaii to Florida to Maine. Each student has overcome their own personal struggles, worked incredibly hard and are now headed to campus with the comfort of knowing there is a College Possible coach there to support them until they earn their degree.