A Big Step Toward Your Future

Chancellor Carmen Fariña. | NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Chancellor Carmen Fariña. | NYC DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

BY CARMEN FARIÑA | Monday, May 2 marked College Signing Day — one of great excitement and celebration for many young New Yorkers. Across all five boroughs, high school seniors have made their final decisions on where they’ll be attending college this September. It’s a wonderful accomplishment for them, their families, and their teachers and school staff.

For the first time this year, the public schools have launched a citywide College Signing Day campaign for schools to celebrate their seniors’ plans for college and careers. Throughout this week, schools are hosting rallies, assemblies, parades, dinners, and announcements and posting their seniors’ decisions on walls and bulletin boards, while students and their teachers are wearing college gear to mark this important step.

As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how important events like College Signing Day are. Not just to celebrate the seniors and encourage them to stick with their plans to attend college, but also so that freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can attend the celebrations and get excited and ready to go to college. This also sparks conversations about plans leading up to matriculation, and how to best prepare during the next few months.

When the younger students see the seniors’ excitement around their college choices, freshmen and sophomores may start seeing college as a tangible possibility for their future. And they’ll start thinking about the path to get there. Thinking about college early builds students’ confidence and helps them plan for the schoolwork, exams, and applications they’ll need to succeed.

In fact, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. That’s why, this January, we had our first-ever College Awareness Day — where teachers and school staff in pre-K, elementary, middle, and high schools wore college attire and shared their college experiences with students. I was in awe of the dedication, excitement, and joy students and staff brought to this day.

These events are crucial for getting students to dream big, but we must to do more to support every student in making those dreams a reality. That’s why we’ve launched College Access for All initiatives at the middle and high school levels as part of our agenda to bring equity and excellence to all schools.

Through College Access for All-Middle School, every middle school student will have the opportunity to visit a college campus, and there will be new student and parent workshops to start college preparation and awareness early. Through College Access for All-High School, every high school student will have an individualized college and career plan, and take the SAT for free during the school day during their junior year of high school.

So, on College Signing Day and the rest of this week — and every day — I encourage parents to talk with their children about their dreams for college and careers, and to work collaboratively with our school staff to set them on the right path.

I congratulate our seniors on their college choices. I know the sky’s the limit for them, as well as for all students following in their footsteps.

Carmen Fariña is the chancellor of the New York City public schools.