May 27, 2019


During this year’s College Signing Day, I had to unique opportunity to talk with dozens of students about their motivations and dreams for college.

As College Signing Day approached, it occurred to me that many of the students attending the UCLA celebration on May 1 had likely been paying attention to the news cycle about the college admissions scandal and may have newfound anxiety about embarking on this new college journey. Many may have been wondering, is college for me? How disheartening to think that, due to the actions of some, their confidence might be rattled, leading them to question whether or not they belong on a college campus.

It is now more important than ever to reassure every student who sees college as a part of their future that college is for them, and that regardless of background, they belong too. 

Attending College Signing Day this year, I wanted to capture the spirit and energy of the day, and talk honestly with students about their dreams, successes, and challenges as they make one of the most important decisions of their lives - where to attend college.

So, as I walked around the Pauley Pavilion, I simply asked them: why does college need you?

The responses were nothing short of remarkable.

Here are just a few of the takeaways from these students:

These students aren’t just planning to go to college for the sake of going to college. They have much larger aspirations to lift up the communities that pushed them to succeed. And they know that their work isn’t finished.

This year’s College Signing Day has come and gone, but the memories I have of my brief conversations with students stayed with me, and I am still so touched by the energy of that day. I don’t know any of these students personally, but I thank them for sharing their stories with me. After all, it’s not easy to compete for attention with Michelle Obama.

I hope every student in the room at UCLA on May 1 and elsewhere remembers today, and everyday, that college needs them, and any college should consider themselves lucky to welcome them to campus. And each of us in the college admissions space should break down every possible barrier to help them get there.

To the students moving on to the next amazing step in their lives: congratulations to each one of you! And a special thank you to those who took time out of their College Signing Day celebration to share their stories with this complete stranger.

Counselors: As your juniors prepare for their final year in high school, and as your seniors prepare to embark on their post-secondary path, we hope you’ll be able to encourage them to stay the course. We’ve included a poster that we encourage you to share with you students to help them not only stay focused as the prepare for the next step, but also remind them that they provide extraordinary value to any college they choose. Join the movement! #CollegeNeedsYou

Jennifer Davis is a Digital Content Marketing Manager for The Common Application.