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Academic Signing Days-Why are they important?

Rachelle Bernadel is the IB’s University Relations Administrator at the IB Global Centre in Bethesda, MD, USA. She is also an IB graduate of Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland.

A couple of weeks ago students attending U.S. colleges and universities celebrated College Signing Day. May 1st was the deadline for many students were to submit their attendance deposits to prospective institutions. This is an exciting time for students, counselors, teachers, parents and any supportive adult who was involved in the college admissions process. It is a day to really solidify the next four years of their lives. Attending college turned from an abstract idea that lingered in the minds of students into a reality and a sort of rite of passage, “this is it!” College signing day is not only significant for the student, but also has wider implications for community members and the socio-cultural values that they hold. When we celebrate the accomplishments of all students selecting to pursue post-secondary education, it inherently conveys how we view the significance of having a strong college-going generation that will not only enroll, but persistent to complete their degree.

As the first person in my immediate family to complete my Bachelor’s degree, I cannot express the importance of having a communal expectation that I attended college. When community members in my area fostered shared ownership of a “college vision” in that similar messaging was always conveyed to local high schools, and the tones or themes that underlined how administrators and teachers spoke to students, it created a sort of cultural shift. College is a culture, not just a time restricted life event.

Signing days are just as significant for IB students as well. After the load of external assessments has passed, IB students just want to feel normal, they are still high school students after all! I was interested to learn how an IB school took on that challenge celebrating students and the significance has for them. I spoke with the “Academic Signing Day” Team at Earl Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada and here is their take on last year’s event:

“Last year was our first Academic Signing Day. We had always honored our athletes by holding athletic signings and wanted do something that recognized academics. We are more of an academic championship school than an athletic championship school.  We also realize that no one, except for the student, a few friends, family, the guidance counselor, scholarship chairman and (IB Coordinator) really knew where the students were going to school and what kind of scholarships they were offered. We wanted to celebrate their hard work, and publicize to the community that our students (all IB, though it was open to all) were going to amazing places and were receiving scholarships to do so. The hardest part was determining the percentage in academic scholarships that the Universities were paying the students. Last year we recognized students receiving 70% or more four years of tuition paid in academic scholarships. This year, we changed it to 100% tuition paid for by a university for all four years, and we already have 6 students who will be signing with 100% paid. The event was a great success, with the fellow class members, staff, and parents to share in the celebration (we invited the media, but they didn’t come – maybe this year!). Our IB students were happy to show that their hard work really paid off. Our local University, UNR, also holds a signing day for our students, and have done so for several years, and we are very thankful for their celebration of our highest achieving students.”

Signing schools below:

  • Montana State University- Bozeman
  • Scripps College
  • Stanford University
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Las Vegas, Nevada
  • University of Nevada, Reno
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Utah
  • Utah State University
  • Willamette University

If you are interested in learning more about how Wooster organized their signing day event and want to start one at your school, feel free to reach out to the planning team for ideas to get things started:

Leah Keuscher, Principal

Alejandra Reyes, College and Career Coordinator

Amanda Pippin, Leadership teacher

Valerie Bayarddevolo-Fine, IB Coordinator


What has your school done to celebrate IB students? We would love to know! Leave your thoughts in the comments box.




2 Responses to Academic Signing Days-Why are they important?

  1. Mike Wilson April 23, 2017 at 11:20 #

    I totally agree with the importance of celebrating Academic Signing Day. Our school, Princeton High School, in Cincinnati, Ohio initiated an Academic Signing Day in April of 2008. We are celebrating our 12th Annual Academic Signing Day next week on the evening of May 3, 2017. It has become a valued tradition at our school. Last year we had over 500 people attend this event.

    • Rachelle Bernadel April 26, 2017 at 09:25 #

      Wonderful to hear Mike! Have you received a message from us about sending videos of some of your IB student’s acceptances so we can highlight them during the upcoming Signing Week?

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