| By Gale Staff |
Higher education institutions play a significant role in the U.S. economy and the American ethos. To many, attending college is a vital right of passage; universities serve as a catalyst for adulthood and help their attendees achieve their career goals. And a college degree opens doors and provides opportunities.
On June 6, take the time to inspire future graduates during National Higher Education Day, an annual observation created to help equip students on their path to higher education. The holiday provides a chance for staff, students, and graduates to celebrate their institution and encourage the next generation to pursue the university experience. How can you be a part of the celebration?
Put Students on the Path to Higher Education
Some students may not consider attending college because of perceived barriers to entry. Perhaps they lack the financial means and are unsure of how they’ll pay for the cost of furthering their education, or maybe they aren’t sure where to start when it comes to selecting and applying to a university. Whatever the obstacle, there are many ways you can help students find a path to higher education.
Encourage Students to Overcome Obstacles
Find students on campus with unique stories about their college experience—particularly students who had to overcome some sort of obstacle to make it to college. Have them share their experiences with high school students who are deciding whether to further their education. Students are likely to find these real-life stories both inspiring and relatable as they begin to think about applying to college—it may even encourage someone who is undecided to attend.
Teach Students How to Ace the Application
Some students may want to further their education but are unsure where to start. Help them feel confident when applying by hosting events at your campus. Set up a writing workshop to teach students to write strong application essays or host a seminar to go over the components of the application, like what forms or documentation they may need to gather. Supporting college-bound students in this way can help take the stress and confusion out of the process.
Provide Support to Those Seeking Financial Aid
Consider visiting local high schools in your area to help librarians or other school staff curate resources for students seeking financial aid for college. It might be helpful to have high school librarians devote a portion of the library to housing this information. Make sure students know where to go to access help. You might even want to host an informational night that both parents and students can attend to learn more.
Explain the Benefits of Higher Education
According to a recent study from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree typically earn more than individuals with only a high school diploma. In fact, when the two populations are compared, bachelor’s degree holders will make, on average, $1.2 million more over the course of their lifetime. College graduates are also likelier to have health insurance and less likely to experience unemployment. Helping potential college-bound students understand the benefits of a degree is important—once equipped with this knowledge, they can make the decision that is best for them. How can you help?
Host an event and invite students to attend—have both graduates and undergraduates from your campus there to share their unique experiences. Graduates can speak to the benefits of holding a college degree and the doors it has opened for them while undergraduates can discuss the positive experiences they’ve had thus far and their aspirations for the future. You might also want to share these stories via social media.
Offer Students a Glimpse of College Life
What is it like to attend college? This can be hard to imagine for some. Help students better understand by hosting a weekend retreat meant to immerse potential college-bound students in college life. Allow attendees to stay on campus if possible and set up a schedule of seminars and classes for them to attend. Giving them this opportunity allows them to fully embrace the experience and to connect with other participants. It typically works best to host a retreat like this during summer when undergraduates are away and dormitories are vacant.
Begin the weekend by offering students a tour of the campus. Make sure to point out all the unique things your college or university has to offer along the way—like the recreational center, the cafeteria or food hall, and the library. This will help students orient themselves and better understand campus life.
It’s also important for students to be able to attend actual college courses. If possible, allow participants to choose from a selection of classes—this will give them an opportunity to explore their potential field of study. Make sure to leave time for questions so students can learn more about programs and degrees they’re interested in.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, find a way to help observe National Higher Education Day this June. College is for everyone, and all students deserve the opportunity to obtain a college degree. Head to NationalHigherEducationDay.org for more information and helpful tools for aspiring college graduates!