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Students across country celebrate next steps on College Signing Day

Lee High School students earned more than 500 acceptance letters to colleges

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Students across the country celebrated their next steps Friday during College Signing Day.

At Lee High School, students earned more than 500 acceptance letters to colleges, and they're surpassing the goals set last year.

"It was just a sigh of relief knowing that I'm going to college," Jamal Davis said. "I'm a first-generation college student, so everyone was happy."

Davis said he's excited for his future, but admits the process of getting into college wasn't easy.

"It was hard," Davis said. "I wasn't ready to graduate, not knowing where I was going to go."

Classmate Kayla Morrison agreed.

"I got so discouraged at first, because you get so many deferred letters that you don't get scholarships, and when you get your first acceptance letter, it's, like, 'Wow, I can do this,'" Morrison said.

After sending out 50 applications, she's decided on a school and has scholarship money, as do hundreds of other college-bound students at Lee High.

The original goal was for students to get $3 million in scholarships. They went above and beyond, earning more than $5.5 million in scholarships.

They received a lot of help from counselors, such as Suzanne Patterson. Counselors met with the students and helped them with college applications, student aid and preparations for college.

"The difference this year is the kids are buying into it more," Patterson said. "From Harvard to technical institutes, we bring in all kinds of colleges and post-secondary options."

The counselors said with new programming and an open-door policy, they are cultivating a college-bound culture.

If you or a family member is headed to college, News4Jax wants to hear from you. Use the hashtag #CollegeSigningDay, and be sure to tag News4Jax on Twitter and Instagram. You can also post to News4Jax's Facebook wall.